A grieving young father is suing the Springfield Police Department in Illinois after he claims officers who searched his vehicle mistook his daughter’s ashes for drugs.
The April 2020 traffic stop was captured by police bodycam and recently released. In the heartbreaking video, Dartavius Barnes is seen handcuffed and sitting in the back of a squad car before giving officers permission to “process” his vehicle, according to Fox 2 Now.
“This was in the center console,” says one officer after searching Barnes’ 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.
Despite the positive results of a police field test, the powder inside the metallic container wasn’t drugs at all, but the cremated remains of Barnes’ 2-year-old daughter, Ta’Naja, according to Barnes’ lawsuit.
When police confronted Barnes about their find, Barnes lost it. “No, no, no, bro, that’s my daughter!,” he repeatedly told officers.
The toddler died in February of 2019 after police found her unresponsive, wrapped in a urine-soaked blanket, according to Fox 2. She had been neglected and starved in the days leading up to her death, according to authorities.
The baby’s mother, T’wanka Davis, and her mother’s boyfriend were found guilty of her murder and were both sentenced to decades in prison.
Barnes’ lawsuit claims that officers opened Ta’Naja’s ashes without his consent and then spilled them out during the search, according to WRSP.
The body cam video captured the moment police told Barnes that they were going to arrest him for drug possession. When they showed him the cylinder they found in the center console, he immediately broke down and asked them to give him back his daughter.
“Give me that, bro. That’s my daughter,” Barnes pleaded. “Please give me my daughter, bro. Put her in my hand, bro. Y’all are disrespectful, bro.”
The officers, who claim they also found marijuana in the car, discussed what Barnes told them and ultimately one of the officers said, “I’m just going to give him a notice to appear on the weed.”
Barnes is now suing the City of Springfield and several Springfield police officers. A jury trial on the matter is set for August of 2022.
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