A horrific photograph showing a white officer belonging to the North County Police Cooperative in Missouri, smiling and standing beside a 28 year old black man’s body was released last week by a television station. The black man has been identified as Omar Rahman. The photograph went viral and sparked an uproar on social media. The photograph shows the officer wearing latex gloves and giving a thumbs up with his right hand while holding up Omar’s limp arm in the other.
The officer’s identity has not been made public. Omar’s mother, Kimberly Stanton was shocked after watching the picture. She said “I want them punished for what they’d done, because my child, he couldn’t do anything. He was helpless. He was gone.” Stanton found out about the picture after a reporter showed it to her some time after her son’s death. Stanton said that she seeks action against all those who were present in the room. The photograph has triggered an internal investigation. Police Chief Timothy Swope did acknowledge the fact that the officer could have been more sensitive towards the dead body but he refused to speak further on the matter.
Staaton’s lawyer, Antonio Romanucci said that he is planning to file a lawsuit alleging ‘ negligent infliction of emotional distress’ within two weeks. The lawyer said “Clearly, this is a blatant example of disregard for human life,” Romanucci said. “When you take a photograph like that, the expectation is it will be seen by other individuals. They knew this photograph could’ve been seen by his mother. … The smile that is on that officer’s face as he’s handling this human body is disturbing. I’m disgusted by it.” The lawyer also said that the incident looks racially motivated and does not seem like an ‘isolated incident’.
Several people on social media also pointed out to the racial undertones, one of the Facebook posts said, ‘Can we as humans be that insensitive?’ and another said , “”As a momma, this breaks my heart. I cannot imagine seeing this from the people that are PAID to protect and serve,” Some also drew parallels between the photograph of Omar Rahman and those at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq which show soldiers posing over the prisoners’ bodies smiling with their thumbs up.