Black Man Files Federal Lawsuit After Illinois Police Officers Told Him a Container With His Daughter’s Ashes Tested Positive for Drugs

Illustration for article titled Black Man Files Federal Lawsuit After Illinois Police Officers Told Him a Container With His Daughter’s Ashes Tested Positive for Drugs
Photo: ArtOlympic (Shutterstock)

It’s so strange that bootlickers exist when cops continually do shit that makes any normal person without authoritarian tendencies go “Wow, that’s fucked up.” A Black man in Illinois has filed a federal lawsuit after officers took a small urn containing his daughter’s ashes and said it tested positive for drugs.


Wow. That’s fucked up.

According to the Washington Post, Dartavius Barnes was handcuffed and put into a squad car on April 6, 2020 after being pulled over for allegedly speeding and ignoring a stop sign. Body camera footage shows that Barnes cooperated with officers during the stop, exiting the vehicle when asked, and giving the officers permission to search his vehicle. Barnes even told the officers that he had marijuana in his vehicle.

Barnes became understandably agitated when the officers approached him with a metal container that contained the ashes of his 2-year-old daughter, Ta’Naja Barnes. The officers tested the container and told Barnes it came back positive for meth or ecstasy.

“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,” Barnes can be heard yelling at the officers in the footage.

Barnes’ daughter tragically died as a result of starvation and neglect, with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend being sentenced to decades in prison as a result.

The body camera footage shows the officers discussing the contents of the container. “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 officer replied, referring to ecstasy.

After discussing what Barnes had told them, the officers returned the urn to Barnes’ father who arrived on the scene and was visibly upset after learning they tested the ashes. The officers eventually let Barnes go, with video showing one officer filing a police report in his squad car and saying “I’m just going to give him a notice to appear on the weed.”


“Aside from pissed-off dad and testing the dead baby ashes,” another officer replies. Just gotta love that people with such callousness are the ones in charge of public safety. Totally makes me feel safer.

Barnes filed a federal lawsuit against the city, and the six officers involved in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois last October. Barnes alleges that they unlawfully tested them without his permission, and that they “desecrated” her ashes when they allegedly spilled some while testing them.


A federal district judge has set a jury trial for next year.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.



Roadside rapid tests should be banned. The tests are, no doubt, going to test positive for whatever they are intended to detect - there is great doubt that they will test negative for everything else in the universe, which means plenty of false positives which means plenty of wrongful arrests, seizures, stays in jail for extended periods of time while a lab takes months to go through the backlog, loss of jobs, housing, all possessions, and too often, marriages and child custody.

Ban “drug” dogs as well. They are trained to alert to the handlers cues as well as drugs. A head tilt, a hand gesture, a scuff of a foot. They are looking to be rewarded and are not drug-detecting robots. They are never subject to double blind testing in the field, so any evidence of their actions is subjective. Like chemical tests, they are essentially capable of detecting drugs, but they report on other things, like the handler requesting a false positive as an excuse to steal.