A St. Louis cop appears to have been photographed posing next to a dead man, holding the man’s hand, smiling, and giving the camera a “thumbs up.” Meanwhile, the police department involved in the photo is refusing to answer questions and is instead threatening legal action against the TV news station that reported it.
As KMOV (St. Louis) reports, investigative reporter Lauren Trager somehow came into possession of the photograph – neither she nor her bosses at KMOV are revealing how – which was taken at a crime scene in suburban North County on August 8, 2016. The North County Cooperative Police Department responded to a call to a home in suburban Pine Ridge. There, 28-year-old Omar Rahman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose.
While on the scene, at least one NCCPD officer felt the need to pose for a photo with the dead man, holding the man’s hand up in the air, smiling and giving a thumbs up.
— AFRICANGLOBE.NET (@AFRICANGLOBE_) November 5, 2016
The identity of the police officer in the photograph has not been made public; however, Trager herself believes she knows who he is and has attempted to contact him via Facebook. He has not responded as of this writing.
Rahman’s mother, Kim Staton, is furious.
“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.”
According to KTLA (Los Angeles), Staton has hired an attorney, Antonio Romanucci, to get to the bottom of the photo.
“It’s hideous. The implications of this photograph are just astronomical. I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs, I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body.”
Trager spoke to a police expert, former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom, to try to understand why a cop would pose in a photo with a dead body. Isom drew a blank.
“I don’t know why he’s raising his thumb in the air, I don’t know what he’s doing at that point, I can’t explain why you would be doing that in the photo, but certainly there are reasons why a person might turn a body over, view it, for signs of trauma.”
As it turns out, the North County Cooperative Police Department seems less concerned with the photo’s existence than they are with the fact that a KMOV reporter has it and is talking about it.
— STL Public Radio (@stlpublicradio) May 24, 2016
The NCCPD is a combined police force of several smaller cities in northern St. Louis County in the St. Louis suburbs. It formed in the aftermath of a damning Justice Department report, released in the wake of the Ferguson unrest, that found multiple problems with policing the black communities in St. Louis’ northern suburbs, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
NCCPD Chief Tim Swope refused to speak on-camera about the photo and said that the Department is investigating the “totality” of the incident. Further, he refused to even let Trager show him the photo.
Trager and KMOV have also been threatened with legal action for possessing and disseminating the photo. An attorney for the NCCPD sent two letters to KMOV demanding that they stop talking about and disseminating the photo, calling it “stolen property.”
“[NCCPD] does not believe it is appropriate to comment on a matter related to 2 open criminal investigations.”
Romanucci has threatened to file a counter suit, forcing the NCCPD to provide more information about the photo.
[Featured Image by Bennian/Shutterstock]