There really appears to be no line the police will not cross. At least, not in this case, where Largo, Fla., police shot and killed a 30-year-old black man during a traffic stop, only to later go to the funeral home days before the victim’s burial in an attempt to use his fingerprint to unlock his phone as part of an investigation.
According to ABC News, the attorney representing the family of Linus Phillip Jr. confirmed that two detectives went to the funeral home days before Phillip’s funeral service and held his hand up to his iPhone’s fingerprint sensor in the cold storage at the funeral home. However, attorney John Trevena said the attempt was not successful.
Nonetheless, Phillip’s loved ones are furious at the insult that was added to the irreversible injury.
“So they are allowed to pull him out of the refrigerator and use a dead man’s finger to get to his phone? It’s disgusting,” Phillip’s girlfriend and the mother of his two children, Victoria Armstrong, told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, Fla. “We are fighting to find out what happened.”
The Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home where Phillip’s body was held did not respond to ABC’s request for comment. However, Police Lt. Randall Chaney confirmed that detectives did attempt to unlock Phillip’s phone using the dead man’s fingerprint, claiming that detectives didn’t think they would need a warrant, as there is no expectation of privacy after death, the Tampa Bay Times notes.
“Nobody even calling us from the facility to let us know detectives were coming there at all is very disturbing,” Armstrong said. “I’m very skeptical of all funeral homes now.”
The Largo Police Department declined to go into detail about the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The case is still presently active, however, sometime in the near future, the investigation should be concluded and the report will be available for any public records requests,” a spokesperson for the police department said.
Largo police shot Phillip dead on March 23.
According to ABC News, officers approached the vehicle Phillip was in at a Wawa gas station to perform a traffic stop due to the vehicle’s heavily tinted windows.
Turns out the vehicle was actually a rental Phillip was driving. However, as the 30-year-old provided the appropriate paperwork to show that the car was a rental, an officer said he smelled marijuana.
Officers told Phillip that they were going to search him, when, according to a police press release, Phillip jumped into the driver’s seat and tried to flee.
An officer, identified as Matt Steiner, was apparently hanging on to the car when Phillip put the car in reverse and accelerated.
You probably know the story from here.
The officer said Phillip’s actions caused him to fear for his life, which prompted him to fire his weapon.
He shot Phillip four times, ultimately killing the young father.
“It is the conclusion of the State Attorney’s Office that the death of Linus Phillip Jr. was the result of having been shot by Officer Matt Steiner in the legal performance of his duty, and the shooting was justifiable homicide,” the press release read.
Largo police claimed that they reviewed footage from several cameras at the gas station but said that the footage was “limited” and somehow doesn’t show the actual encounter between Phillip and the officers.
Police say that Phillip had marijuana, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, hydromorphone pills and more than $1,500 in cash in his pockets at the time of the fatal police shooting.
But all of that doesn’t matter to Phillip’s family, who slammed the police use of force as unnecessary.
“Did they really need to kill him to stop him?” family attorney Trevena said. “It makes no sense.”
“They killed him after his 30th birthday. Oh God, he turned 30 on March 11,” Martha Hicks, Phillip’s mother, told WTFS. “It’s too much, too much. We just want to know what happened.”
“My son is no longer going to grow up [with] a father,” Armstrong said. “[Phillip is] not here anymore because of this, and they’re just slandering his name like he’s some awful person.”