(NEXSTAR) – “No, no, no, bro, that’s my daughter!”
Those were the words of Dartavius Barnes captured by a Springfield, Illinois police body cam after officers allegedly mistook the ashes of his 2-year-old daughter for drugs.
Barnes is now suing the department over the April 6, 2020 traffic stop.
Video obtained by WICS first shows Barnes, handcuffed, sitting in the back of a squad car, give officers permission to “process” the vehicle.
“This was in the center console,” says one officer after searching the car, unscrewing a cylinder and showing it to another officer. “At first I thought it was heroin, then I checked for cocaine, but it looks like it’s probably molly.”
“X pills?” another officer asks.
Despite the positive results of a police field test, the powder inside the metallic container wasn’t drugs at all, it was cremated remains of Barnes’ daughter, Ta’Naja, according to the lawsuit.
The toddler died in February 2019 after police found her unresponsive, wrapped in a urine-soaked blanket, according to WICS. She had been neglected and starved in the days leading up to her death, authorities said.
The girl’s mother, T’wanka Davis, and her mother’s boyfriend were found guilty of her murder and were both sentenced to decades in prison.
The lawsuit claims that officers opened Ta’Naja’s ashes without consent and then spilled them out during the search, according to WRSP.
The body cam video captured the moment police told Barnes they were going to arrest him for drug possession and showed him the cylinder they found in the center console.
“Give me that, bro. That’s my daughter,” Barnes pleads. “Please give me my daughter, bro. Put her in my hand, bro. Y’all are disrespectful, bro.”
The officers, who said they also found marijuana in the car, discuss what Barnes told them and ultimately one says, “I’m just going to give him a notice to appear on the weed.”
Another says, “Aside from pissed off dad and testing the dead baby ashes.”
Barnes is now suing the City of Springfield and several Springfield police officers. A jury trial is set for August of 2022.