A police precinct in Seattle kept a mock tombstone in their break room marking the day their officers killed a Black teen.
The tombstone was captured on an officer’s body cam from January 2021 and was released as part of an unrelated lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Seattle’s graffiti laws, the Seattle Times reports.
The video showed the tombstone on a shelf with a Black clenched fist. It reads “Damarius Butts, 19 years” and April 20, 2017, the day he was shot and killed.
A large Trump campaign flag was also seen hanging on the wall, according to the Times.
Butts was killed after fleeing a convenience store robbery and engaging in a shootout with officers. Three officers were injured. Butts was shot 11 times and bled to death before receiving medical assistance.
An inquest jury found that the shooting was justified and the department cleared the officers, the Times reports.
Ann Butts, Damarius’ mother, is now demanding that police apologize for the mock tombstone.
“I can’t express how hurtful it was to learn that SPD endorsed joking about the killing of my son by displaying a fake tombstone with his name on it,” she said in a statement through her attorney. “I didn’t think SPD could take more from me. I was wrong.”
In a statement, the department said it does not know how the fake tombstone ended up in the break room and they “have no reason to believe it was placed as a ‘trophy’ or with any pejorative intent.”
The department told the Times that the precinct was a focal point of Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. Those protest had become less frequent but were still ongoing in January 2021 when officers responded to a call about a group of protesters using chalk and charcoal to write political statements on a precinct’s exterior wall.
“Protesters often placed items such as these commemorating subjects of the use of force locally and nationwide around the precinct,” the department said. “It would not be unexpected that items left at the precinct might land on a storage shelf until disposition.”