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Officer's attorney questions why bodycam footage benefiting his client was deleted

The attorney for a fired Pittsburgh police officer says body camera footage that would exonerate his client was deleted by the city in a move that raises questions of a cover-up.

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The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office says the video was automatically deleted because the officer who recorded it never marked it to be saved.

Kaelen O'Connor appeared at a pretrial hearing Friday for charges of obstruction of justice, accused of helping cover up a road rage incident involving off-duty Officer Robert Kramer.

Kramer was fired too, but a jury in September found him not guilty in the road rage case.

In a motion filed last week, O'Connor's attorney, Bill Difenderfer claims the missing bodycam footage shows the alleged road rage victim threatening to get another officer fired, saying he already got Kramer and O'Connor fired.

Difenderfer said that all the other footage from the day in question was saved except for the portion involving the alleged victim.

“From traffic stops to all kinds of different things,” he said. “Everything is there except the one section.”

In a response filed Friday, the district attorney's office confirmed the video was deleted, but says it was automatically purged after the 90-day retention period expired because it was never tagged to be saved. The office also said it never received a subpoena to save the video. 

The motions suggest the officer who captured the video didn't take steps to save it.

O’Connor is set for trial on Jan. 7, and the judge has yet to set a date to hear arguments about the bodycam footage.

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