Is That Cocaine, or the Ashes of Your Baby Daughter?


Late one night last August, Jason Burnham was walking down the street in Mount Dora, Florida, when he was stopped by a local police officer, Brad Cline, who thought he "appeared intoxicated." Burnham told Cline he had taken Xanax that was prescribed for his depression after his 9-month-old daughter's accidental death in 2002. Cline asked about illegal drug use, patted Burnham down, and searched him. Then, according to a lawsuit Burnham and his wife filed last week, Cline opened a silver cross-shaped pendant that Burnham wore around his neck and dumped the contents onto the hood of his police car. According to the suit, Cline thought the pendant contained cocaine; it actually contained the ashes of Burnham's baby daughter. "Defendant Cline, after seeing that the ashes were not cocaine, wiped Plaintiff Burnham's daughter's ashes to the ground," the suit says.

Cline is no longer with the Mount Dora Police Department, but not as a result of any disciplinary action. An internal investigation concluded that the details of the ash incident–in particular, who emptied out the pendant–could not be conclusively determined. But I'm betting it wasn't the grieving father.