He is suing the police for desecrating the infant’s remains.
A bereaved father is suing Illinois police after they accused him of possessing meth — when it was really the ashes of his murdered daughter.
Distressing bodycam footage shows the moment Dartavius Barnes’ confusion turns to horror when he realizes cops have been testing his two-year-old child’s remains, believing them to be drugs.
The incident occurred on April 6 of last year, when Barnes was pulled over while driving through Springfield; an incident report claimed he was speeding, after there had been reports of gunfire in the area.
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According to the lawsuit, obtained by ABC20, officers then placed him in cuffs and put him in the back of a squad car, while they searched his vehicle without consent, a valid warrant, or probable cause.
The bodycam footage shows police finding marijuana in the car, contained in bags and jars, which Barnes openly admits to having. But when he is told they also found “something else” in the center console: a crushed up substance that tested positive for “meth or MDMA”, Barnes is utterly puzzled, and asks if he can be shown what they are talking about.
“I swear I don’t do that type of s—t,” he protests. “Can I see that bro? Am I going to jail for it?”
“Yeah probably at this point,” the cop can be heard sighing.
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The officer then returns to the car with the “evidence” — a small hollow cylinder-shaped container with a screw off top. But when he shows it to Barnes, he freaks out.
“No no no bro that’s my daughter!” he cries, suddenly making a desperate grab at it, but his hands are still cuffed. “What are y’all doing? Ask my daddy, that’s my daughter in there! She just passed two years… you know me!”
“Please gimme my daughter. Put her in my hand. Y’all are disrespectful bro! Can I please have my daughter?”
Closing the door on him, the officer returns with the urn to his colleagues, sheepishly chuckling: “Apparently, this is his daughter’s ashes that Reibeling thought tested positive for meth.”
“Has he got a test kit?” his colleague queried.
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“Yeah I mean he showed it to me, it looked blue but…” he trails off. “I’ll test it again.”
All the while, Barnes can be heard wailing from the back of the squad car, begging for his daughter’s ashes back.
One of the other officers points out that Barnes’ father, who was also in the car at the time of the traffic stop, had instantly said the object contained his granddaughter’s ashes.
“Yeah… I’m probably not going to test it again,” the first officer decides, before informing a thankful Barnes he will return the urn to his father’s possession.
Later in the footage, the officers can be heard uncertainly discussing the results of the test.
“He said it was kind of a weird… it didn’t, like it wasn’t bright blue… it was like, purple,” they muse.
Barnes’ two-year-old daughter Ta’Naja died in 2019, of neglect and starvation. Her mother Twanka L. Davis is currently serving a 20-year sentence having pled guilty to first-degree murder. Her boyfriend Anthony Myers is serving 30 years for the same crime, having denied responsibility.
Barnes’ lawsuit, filed in October, names the City of Springfield and the six officers involved in the stop.
“As a result of this unlawful search, Defendants took possession of a sealed urn containing the ashes of Plaintiff’s deceased 2-year-old daughter inside Plaintiff’s vehicle,” it claims.
“Defendants unsealed this urn and opened this urn without consent and without a lawful basis including a search warrant…. as a result of this unlawful search, Defendants desecrated and spilled out the ashes of Plaintiff’s 2-year-old daughter who died several months earlier.”
In response to the suit, the officers said they are “entitled to qualified immunity as their conduct was justified by an objectively reasonable belief that it was lawful.”
Per ProPublica, the incident wouldn’t be the first time a police roadside drug test turned up a false positive.
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