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St. Louis, MO — A mother is still asking for answers two years after her son’s death and wants to know why a photo exists of a cop posing with her son’s dead body. The man’s mother has since announced a lawsuit demanding to know why a police officer felt it necessary to degrade her poor son in such a disgusting manner.
“My heart hurts every day. That was my only son,” said Kim Staton.
On August 8, 2016, Staton’s son, Omar Rahman, 28, was found dead in his home in Pine Lawn. The North County Police Cooperative responded to conduct an investigation, during which time the photo was taken. Since this photo, the county medical examiner ruled the Rahman’s death an accidental overdose.
“I really don’t know, actually, what happened to my son,” she said, describing how police haven’t said much to her since her son’s death.
Weeks after Rahman’s death, a photo, appearing to depict the scene of her son’s death, was leaked. The date, Aug. 8, 2016, was the date of Rahman’s death.
In the photo, the officer is wearing gloves, holding onto the arm of Rahman’s body and giving a thumbs up.
“In your mind, is there any reasonable explanation for what that officer was doing?” asked Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager, the reporter who discovered the image.
“No,” said Staton. “Because when they come to a call, 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.”
“It’s hideous. The implications of this photograph are just astronomical,” Staton’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci said in agreement at the time.
“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, indicating that something is not right.
Then-Chief Tim Swope said the officer was positioning the body for pictures at the scene and gave the thumbs up “in response to the photographer’s question as to whether he was ready for the photo to be taken,” according to KMOV.
At the time, Swope refused to go on camera, saying that they were conducting an internal and external investigation into “the totality” of the situation. However, nothing ever came from this supposed investigation.
“This has been a complete disaster for the family. It’s been very hard on them and they’ve been seeking answers as to how this could have happened,” Staton’s attorney Tom Porto said.
Staton is now suing the department claiming that the photo caused her severe emotional distress. Staton and her attorney noted that they never bought the official story from police about the thumbs up and the smile in the photo.
“It wasn’t good enough. You can’t explain that photo, you can’t explain that away,” he said.
According to to KMOV, Swope was suspended from the department recently. He then suspiciously resigned—a move taken by many cops facing internal investigation in order to avoid prosecution.
Aside from an officer in their department taking depraved photos with the dead body of a grieving mother’s son, at the time, a lawyer for the North County Police Cooperative threatened KMOV for reporting on the photograph, claiming it was “stolen property,” according to KMOV. The attorney noted that “NCPC does not believe it is appropriate to comment on a matter related to to open criminal investigations.”
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