State Watch

Body-camera footage released showing incident in which police mistook daughter’s ashes for drugs


Body camera footage was recently obtained by Illinois news outlets detailing the incident that caused a man to sue the City of Springfield after police officers “desecrated” his daughter’s urn last year.

The footage, shared by Newschannel 20 and FOX Illinois, shows Dartavius Barnes being pulled over in April 2020. During the incident, officers opened his daughter’s sealed urn and tested it for drugs. 

Police searched Barnes’s car during the traffic stop after he admitted to having marijuana in his car and allowed cops to investigate the vehicle.

The police officers pulled out a small metal object to test for drugs. They confronted Barnes, who was handcuffed in a squad car, claiming they had found an object that had tested positive for meth or ecstasy. A confused Barnes requested to see the object, and was presented with his daughter’s urn. 

“No, no, no, no bro, that’s my daughter,” Barnes can be seen saying on the footage as he reached for the urn. “Give me that bro, that’s my daughter.”

The officers then released the ashes to Barnes’s father, who was waiting up the street. Barnes was let go after about 20 minutes.

Barnes’s daughter, Ta’Naja Barnes, died at the age of 2 from neglect and starvation at the hands of her mother. Twanka L. Davis and her boyfriend were sentenced to prison over Ta’Naja’s death, The Washington Post reports.

Barnes filed a lawsuit against the city and the six officers involved in the traffic stop in October. In the complaint, Barnes alleged the officers opened the sealed urn without consent and spilled some of the ashes during the drug-testing process.

A jury trial for the case is scheduled to begin in August 2022.

Tags Dartavius Barnes Illinois The Washington Post

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