When the cop showed him a small, gold-coloured vial of ashes, Barnes screamed in horror over the misunderstanding, letting the officer know the urn was filled with his daughter’s ashed.
“No, no, no, that’s my daughter, bro!” he shouted. “Give me that, bro! That’s my daughter!”
The officer had tested the remains of Ta’Naja Barnes, Barnes’ two-year-old daughter who died in 2019. Ta’Naja’s mother, Twanka Davis, was convicted of causing the girl’s death through starvation and neglect.
Now, Barnes is now suing the City of Springfield and the six officers involved in the traffic stop. In the lawsuit, he says the police unlawfully searched his vehicle, opened the urn without his consent, and desecrated his daughter’s remains. Of course, police have denied any wrongdoing.
In court papers, the cops admitted to Barnes’ account of what happened, but denied that his “rights were violated” in the process. In a report that police wrote on the incident, one officer wrote, “I have seen similar items like this before utilized to contain narcotics.”
In the newly released body cam footage, though, police can be heard talking about their mistake.
“I’m just going to give him a notice to appear on the weed,” one officer tells another, referring to marijuana they’d found in his car. “Aside from p***ed-off dad and testing the dead baby ashes,” another officer replies.
Now, Barnes’ lawyers are seeking compensatory damages and a trial by jury, which a judge has set for August 2022.