A St. Louis, Missouri, mother was horrified to discover a photo that appeared to show a police officer holding his thumb up next to her son's dead body.
Kim Staton’s son, 28-year-old Omar Rahman, was found dead on Aug. 8 -- his death was later ruled an accidental drug overdose. Since her son’s death, Staton said, she has heard very little from police.
“I really don’t know, actually, what happened to my son,” she told KMOV.
The disturbing photo surfaced weeks after the young man’s death and was dated Aug. 8 -- confirming that it was, in fact, Rahman who was lying next to the smiling officer.
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In the photo, the officer can be seen with his thumb raised in the air while smiling; his other hand is holding onto Rahman’s body.
“In your mind, is there any reasonable explanation for what that officer was doing?” KMOV reporter Lauren Trager asked Staton.
"No," was her reply.
“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,” she said.
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Staton’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, called the photo “hideous.”
“The implications of this photograph are just astronomical,” he said. “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 he wants a full-scale investigation into what led to the picture being taken, reports the Daily Mail.
“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,” he said.
Former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom also weighed in on the photo.
“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,” he said after examining the picture. Isom called for the department to take the photo seriously and investigate it immediately.
“The fact that the photo is out is just problematic, so even if you can't determine the intentions of the officer, which by the photo, look questionable, you certainly are distressed and concerned that it's out in the public,” he said. Isom said he wasn’t sure why the current police chief declined several offers from KMOV to view the photo.
“See it, talk to the officer, get all the information relative to why they were there,” he said.
The officer has yet to be identified.