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Black man sues Illinois police after they mistook his daughter’s ashes for drugs

The officers tested the inside of the urn and told Dartavius Barnes that it tested positive for meth.

Dartavius Barnes Springfield Police bodycam footage

A Black man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Springfield Police Department after the officer took an urn filled with his daughter’s remains and alleged that it tested positive for meth.

According to The Washington Post, on April 6, 2020, Dartavius Barnes was placed in handcuffs and put into a squad car for allegedly speeding and ignoring a stop sign. Bodycam footage showed that he cooperated with the officers during the stop — exiting his car when asked and allowing the cops to search his vehicle. He even admitted to having marijuana in his possession.

While conducting the search, the officers found a small container in the center console of his car. They tested the container and reportedly told Barnes that it tested positive for meth or ecstasy. Once they showed him what they tested, Barnes reacted in horror.

“No, no, no, bro, that’s my daughter,” he yelled. “What y’all doing, bro? That’s my daughter!”

He told the officers that the container was a small urn that stored the ashes of his late two-year-old daughter, who reportedly passed away from starvation and neglect under her mother’s care. At one point, one cop showed the urn to another and discussed what they believed was inside.

“At first, I thought it was heroin, then I checked for cocaine, but it looks like it’s probably molly,” one officer said. “X pills?” another cop asked.

Barnes was eventually let go — without being arrested — after he and his father, who was present at the scene, pleaded for the return of his daughter’s ashes. He has now filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the department alleging that the officers unlawfully opened his daughter’s remains without permission and spilled some of it during the testing.

According to court records, the officers have denied the allegations.

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