ST. LOUIS — A mother is demanding answers after a photo surfaced appearing to show an officer posing, and giving a thumbs up, while holding the arm of her dead son, reports CBS affiliate KMOV.
On Aug. 8, 2016, Kim Staton’s son, 28-year-old Omar Rahman, was found dead from an accidental drug overdose in a home in Pine Lawn, Missouri. The North County Police Cooperative responded and weeks later KMOV obtained a photo appearing to depict the scene of Rahman’s death.
An officer is seen wearing gloves while holding Rahman’s arm and giving a thumbs up. The photo is dated, reading Aug. 8, 2016, at 1:36 p.m.
Staton, who has hired an attorney, said she wants an explanation.
“They’re supposed to be there to help and protect, not doing what he was doing with thumbs up and a smirk on his face,” Staton said.
Her attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said the photo is unlike those typically taken at crime scenes.
“I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs, I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body,” Romanucci said.
Now, he wants a complete investigation by an agency other than the Co-op.
“Who was there that allowed this to go on? Was there any Sergeant involved? Those are the questions that need to be asked and that’s what needs to be found here,” Romanucci said.
Questions are now swirling, too, about how the photo became public. Staton says after KMOV got involved, police told her their official crime scene camera had been missing for a time and that pictures were also gone.
North County Police Cooperative Chief Tim Swope declined to view the photograph when KMOV offered, but said the department is conducting internal and external investigations into “the totality” of the case.
KMOV reports that a lawyer for the department threatened to sue the station for reporting on the photograph, claiming it was “stolen property.”
“(The North County Police Cooperative) does not believe it is appropriate to comment on a matter related to two open criminal investigations,” the attorney said.