North County PD chief speaks out about controversial photo of of - KMOV.com

North County PD chief speaks out about controversial photo of officer with body

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Kim Staton is demanding answers after this photo shows a police officer posing with the dead body of her son, 28-year-old Omar Rahman. Credit: KMOV Kim Staton is demanding answers after this photo shows a police officer posing with the dead body of her son, 28-year-old Omar Rahman. Credit: KMOV

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The chief of police for Velda City in North St. Louis County is telling News 4 he has information related to a controversial photo of a North County Cooperative officer with a dead man's body.  

As News 4 reported exclusively last November, the photo shows the officer holding the arm of a dead man and giving a "thumbs up" sign. After News 4 brought the photo to the attention of the North County Cooperative, Chief Tim Swope said the department would conduct an internal investigation.  

But the department is still refusing to discuss the incident on camera. 

The dead man in the photo is Omar Rahman.  He was 28-years-old when his body was found in a North County home last August. The cause of death has been ruled a drug overdose. His mother, Kimberly Staton told News 4 she is heartbroken over her son's death and the revelation of the photo.  

She says she is getting very few answers about the circumstances surrounding the photo. She did say the Cooperative told her that a nearby police department, Velda City, had the camera for some time.

Velda City's Police Chief talked about his department's use of the camera, and provided security video to support his statement.  

"We did our own internal investigation because of the complaint and the news story you had done, and it turns out, yes, we did have the camera," said Velda City Police Chief Daniel Paulino.  

He said the North County Cooperative loaned its official crime scene camera to a Velda City officer on August 22, two weeks after Rahman's death, to take pictures of a crime scene of their own. But Chief Paulino says his officer became alarmed when he noticed the questionable photo on the camera. He says his officer never downloaded, copied or distributed the picture, but called a Cooperative officer to come get the camera.

Surveillance video provided by Velda City police shows an officer from the North County Cooperative at the Velda City Police Department on August 23. The two department's officers come inside, and together look at the camera and the pictures on it for several minutes. Then the Cooperative's officer leaves, looking down at the camera in hand.  

"When he left here, the photo was in the camera, when he left the station, what happened after that, we don't know," says Chief Paulino. 

News 4 has made several calls and sent emails to North County Cooperative Chief Tim Swope in the past week, but did not hear back. 

Rahman's mother has hired an attorney. They tell News 4 they are having a hard time getting information from the Cooperative, but say they're planning on filing a lawsuit soon.

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