Surveillance Footage Saves Shop Owner from Police Informant Set-Up

July 29, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

“Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t mean much when it’s this easy to be “proven guilty.” Case in point: Donald Andrews, the owner of a head shop in Scotia, New York, who was the target of a paid police informant’s bogus drug bust in April. All it took was a sneakily planted crack-cocaine baggie onto the shop’s counter and a single photograph, and the innocent store owner was facing 25 years on felony drug charges.

The informant would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for the shop’s security cameras. After Andrews’ lawyer showed the grand jury surveillance footage of the entire incident, the accused–who happens to be black–was out of jail in three weeks. The paid informant, who had previously been used in seven operations and procured two convictions, is currently MIA, and the Schenectady Police Department assure us that this kind of thing has never happened before. Cause why would informants — whose paychecks, and often own criminal exonerations, depend on locking other people up — ever choose to take the easy way out?

This footage has become a prime case against the backwards and flawed system of paid police informants, and is making the rounds through community activist groups who want to outlaw the practice entirely. Watch the newly released footage of the incident above.