Illinois police face lawsuit after officers mistook ashes of a man's 2-year-old daughter for drugs and spilled it out
An Illinois man is suing the police department for a traffic stop during which the officers mistook his 2-year-old daughter’s ashes for drugs.
Grieving father, Dartavius Barnes, was captured on bodycam when he was pulled over by Springfield police on April 6. The video shows Barnes handcuffed sitting in the backseat of a squad car. Barned permitted the officers to search his vehicle.
In process they discover what they believed was a suspicious powder.
“This was in the center console,” says one officer after searching the car, unscrewing a cylinder and showing it to another officer. “At first I thought it was heroin, then I checked for cocaine, but it looks like it’s probably molly.”
“X pills?” another officer asks.
Then the officers opened the container without consent and ran the field test of the powder. The test showed positive. But it was not drugs at all. The saddest of all is that the officer spilled the ashes out during the search, according to the lawsuit.
“No, no, no, bro, that’s my daughter!” Barnes said to the cops.
Initially, the cops were going to arrest Barnes for drug possession and showed him a cylinder with the powder they found in his car.
“Give me that, bro. That’s my daughter,” Barnes pleads. “Please give me my daughter, bro. Put her in my hand, bro. Y’all are disrespectful, bro.”
Barnes’ 2-year-old daughter, Ta’Naja, died in February 2019 after police found her unresponsive, wrapped in a urine-soaked blanket, according to WICS. She had been neglected and starved in the days leading up to her death, authorities said.
Barnes didn’t live with the toddler’s mother at that time. The woman, her boyfriend and her mother were later found guilty of the girl’s death and now serve the decades sentence in prison.
The officers also found marijuana in Barnes’ car and one of the officers then could be hear telling the other officer,
“I’m just going to give him a notice to appear on the weed.”
“Aside from pissed off dad and testing the dead baby ashes,” the second cop responds.
Barnes is now suing the City of Springfield and several Springfield police officers. A jury trial is set for August of 2022.
Picture Youtube Screenshot via Springfield Police Department