Dartavius Barnes, of Springfield, Illinois is seeking compensatory damages. A jury trial has been set for August 2022.
Dartavius Barnes, a resident of Springfield, Illinois was pulled over by cops on a highway on April 6 last year for speeding and failing to stop at stop sign. They searched his vehicle and found a cylindrical jar that contained a powdery substance they thought was drugs. But it turned out to be the ashes of Barnes' 2-year-old daughter, Ta'Naja Barnes, who died in 2019 under tragic circumstances. New bodycam footage was obtained by WCIS showed the interaction between Barnes and cops. Throughout, Barnes was in a handcuff and put inside the police vehicle.
Dartavius Barnes alleges that officers with the Springfield Police Department unlawfully took the sealed urn containing his daughter’s ashes and opened it without his consent, spilling some of them during testing https://t.co/sUX3XMIlW8— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 21, 2021
In the clip, an officer is seen asking Barnes, "You got anything in your car?" to which he replied, "Not really," before admitting he had marijuana. "No problem if I search?" the officer asked further. Barnes gives permission. The officers test the urn with a narcotics test kit. "I checked for cocaine, but it looks like it's probably molly," said one of the officers. The other replied, "X pills," referring to another name for ecstasy. The urn is then placed as evidence. An officer goes to Barnes to tell him the urn tested positive for meth or ecstasy. Barnes seemed confused and asked to see what they found. The officer showed him the container, wrapped in the plastic glove, and Barnes immediately reacts. He yelled, "No, no, no, bro, that’s my daughter. What y’all doing, bro? That’s my daughter!" while trying to reach the urn. “Give me that, bro. That’s my daughter. Please give me my daughter, bro. Put her in my hand, bro. Y’all are disrespectful, bro.”
"This is his daughter's ashes that Reibeling thought tested positive for meth," said one officer said while others go to test the urn's contents again. They ultimately hand the urn back to Barnes believing his explanation. Meanwhile, police retrieve marijuana from Barnes' car. He is released after being cuffed for 21 minutes. "I'm just gonna give him a notice to appear on the weed," said one officer. Another responded, "OK, aside from pissing off dad and testing the dead baby ashes." In a police report, it was written that they had "seen similar items like this before utilized to contain narcotics." Barnes has now filed a lawsuit against the police department where he has claimed the officers searched the vehicle without a valid search warrant and dropped the ashes in the process of testing. In their response to the suit, officers said they're "entitled to qualified immunity as their conduct was justified by an objectively reasonable belief that it was lawful." A report in Washington Post stated the lawsuit was against the City of Springfield and six officers from the city's police.
It further alleges the cops took the sealed urn unlawfully and opened it without his consent, and spilled some during the drug test, and “desecrated” Ta’Naja’s ashes in the process. Barnes is seeking compensatory damages. A trial for the same has been set for August 2022. Ta'Naja, Barnes' daughter, was found in a urine-soaked blanket at her home in 2019, according to ABC News. She had been severely neglected and starved leading to her death. Her mother, Twanka Davis, and her mother’s boyfriend were found guilty of her murder. They are both serving long sentences for the crime. The field testing drug kits used by police has often been found to falsely detect drugs, according to another Washington Post report. Worst still, they have sent people to prison.
That’s F’up on every level smh! They should feel like total pieces of 💩— Cem&m Entertainment (@CemmEntertainm1) May 22, 2021
In one case, a man spent two months in jail when his bag of vitamins was incorrectly identified as amphetamines by the testing kit. Other things that tested positive for drugs include chocolate chip cookies, motor oil, spearmint, tortilla dough, deodorant to name just a few.