Newly released body camera footage has shed light on an incident in which a police officer mistook the ashes of an infant for ecstasy or meth.
The incident in question took place last April in Springfield, Illinois. A pair of police officers pulled Dartavius Barnes for allegedly speeding through an area following reports of gunfire. After he was pulled over, Barnes says that he was handcuffed and detained as an officer searched his vehicle.
"No problem if I search?" the officer asked.
"Yeah, go ahead," Barnes replied.
During the search, one officer claims to have found an illegal amount of marijuana and what he believed to be ecstasy or meth. Contained in an urn, the officers began testing his daughter's ashes using a narcotics kit. When Barnes came to know what was occurring, he had a visceral response.
"No, that's my daughter," he shouted.
“What y’all doing, bro? That’s my daughter.”
Barnes lost his 2-year-old daughter, Ta'Naja Barnes, in 2019. His daughter's mother and her boyfriend have been accused of murder.
"This is his daughter's ashes that Reibeling thought tested positive for meth," one officer said.
Despite his pleas, the officers decided to test his daughter's ashes again before deciding to believe him.
After a 30-minute encounter, Barnes was released and given a notice to appear in court for possession of marijuana. After the two parties went their separate ways, two officers were recorded having a discussion regarding the situation.
"I'm just gonna give him a notice to appear on the weed," one officer said.
"OK, aside from pissing off dad and testing the dead baby ashes," another officer replied.
In October, Barnes filed a lawsuit against the city of Springfield. He argues that he was unlawfully searched when he was pulled over last April. The officers responded by claiming that they are "entitled to qualified immunity as their conduct was justified by an objectively reasonable belief that it was lawful."
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