This Police Photograph Sent One St. Louis Mother Searching for Answers

November 5th 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

A death in one St. Louis County family is bringing attention to how police interact with the deceased.

When 28-year-old Omar Rahman died on August 8th, his mother Kim Staton had few answers for how it happened. Now, nearly two months and one accidental drug overdose ruling later, she has even more questions after a photograph was revealed showing an officer of the North County Police Cooperative (NCPC) holding her son’s arm, smiling, and doing what seems to be a thumbs-up.

Staton's attorney, Antonio Romanucci, called the photograph “hideous” and said he’d never seen anything like it before. Wanting further transparency in the matter, Romanucci wants a full investigation into what the officer was doing and who was on the scene at the time by a group other than NCPC.

He told KMOV, St. Louis television station:

“I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs, I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body...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."

The North County Police Cooperation have said that they are doing an internal investigation and cannot comment because it is ongoing. While the officer has not been identified, one member seems to have deleted his Facebook page, though there is no evidence yet that he is the one who was in the photo. 

Much of the NCPC’s concern seems to be how the photograph in question was leaked and came into the possession of local news outlet KMOV. In a heated back-and-forth, the police department’s attorney asked the local news to return the “stolen property” as it was allegedly a piece of evidence in two ongoing investigations. The general counsel for the news organization defended their right to the photo against what they characterized as threats from the police department.

Staton said that she has heard little from the police since her son’s death and does not condone acting out on the scene. "...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,” he told KMOV.

ATTN: has reached out to the NCPC and will update the story if we receive a reply.