Mother wants answers after photo of police officer posing with her son's dead body surfaces online

A mother is reeling after a disturbing photo surfaced online that appears to show a Missouri police officer smiling and giving a thumbs-up over the body of her dead son.

The man has been identified as 28-year-old Omar Rahman. Now his mother, Kim Staton, wants answers after KMOV in St. Louis, which acquired the photograph, showed it to her. 

How the station obtained the photograph remains a mystery.

Staton said that after KMOV got involved, North County Police Cooperative officials told her that their crime-scene camera and some photos had been missing. But somebody had access to the photographs and made sure that Staton and the public became aware of this one police officer’s “hideous” behavior, according to Staton’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci.

"Had you not received that photograph, we wouldn't know this. We would never have known this," Romanucci told KMOV. "I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs. I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body."

When KMOV pressed for answers about how the photograph was leaked and the circumstances at the scene, Chief Tim Swope, head of the North County Police Cooperative, refused to go on camera, saying police were conducting an internal and external investigation into "the totality" of the situation.

KMOV said the chief has declined all of the station's offers to show him the photo.

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Rahman reportedly was found dead in a home Aug. 8. The North County Police Cooperative responded, and the medical examiner ruled his death an accidental drug overdose. Weeks later, the photo apparently depicting the scene of her son’s death was leaked.

The officer in question is wearing gloves, holding onto the arm of the body and giving a thumbs-up.

“In your mind, is there any reasonable explanation for what that officer was doing?” KMOV investigative reporter Lauren Trager asked Staton.

“No, 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,” Staton said.

KMOV sought the expertise of former St. Louis police chief Dan Isom to give his opinion on the situation. He said he can’t fathom why Swope won't even look at the photograph.

“As a chief, would you want to see the picture before you make that determination?” Trager asked the former chief.

“See it, talk to the officer, get all the information relative to why they were there,” Isom said.

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>> Read the police cooperative's response

A letter from Chief Swope

Posted by North County Police Cooperative on Monday, November 7, 2016