A family in the Kansas City area is looking for answers from the local police department after they say an officer poured out some of their relatives’ ashes during a search.
The Kansas City Police Department, meantime, is saying it was an accident when an officer disturbed the ashes of Deonta Words’ grandmother last month.
The incident that led to the mishap unfolded on May 30 as Words walked to a friend’s house, his grandmother’s ashes around his neck in a silver bullet necklace, the Kansas City Star is reporting. Words began wearing the ashes around his neck after his grandmother died in January of last year.
Woods says he saw an unmarked car pull up and the flash of a gun, and he began running. Police, who say they were investigating a multi-state ring of auto dealership burglaries, gave chase, according to Kansas City station KCTV.
Police grabbed Words and as they searched him, opened the container with the ashes and some spilled out. When the officer scooped the ashes off the ground, they were mixed in with dirt and debris.
“This was the last thing of my grandmother — this is what protected me,” Words told the Star. “Wherever I go, she was with me physically.”
Police acknowledge that they spilled the ashes, but they give a different account of the incident than Words.
The police agency says Words was not on foot but was in a parked pickup truck that had been reported stolen. Police also told the Star that Words refused to give his name and was verbally abusive to police. They also said Words had marijuana on him as well as outstanding warrants.
Words was arrested. The Star reports that it requested the police report but, more than a week later, had not received it.
The police department said that whenever someone has something invaluable like a loved one’s ashes on them, it is their responsibility to tell the police officer or officers who are searching them.
“The incident was an accident,” Sgt. Jake Becchina, Kansas City Police Department spokesman, told the Star.
Becchina alleges the officer involved apologized to the family, but Words’ mother said this is not true and that the ashes they have are now mixed with dirt from the ground.
“We don’t have any ashes anymore,” Devona Douglas told the Star. “Admit you’re wrong, period.”
“I miss her. I think about her every day,” Words told Kansas City’s WDAF. “That’s my heart, that’s my baby. I’m her baby. I can’t get her back. I can’t get her ashes back. I’m going to forever think about this.”