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Man says Mount Dora officer dumped his baby's ashes

Associated Press | January 24 2005

MOUNT DORA -- A man filed a complaint and is threatening to sue the city after he says a police officer intentionally dumped a vial containing his baby's ashes last year.

Jason Burnham, 33, said he was stopped by a Mount Dora officer while walking home after Hurricane Charley in August. First, Burnham said, the officer made him empty a prescription bottle of antidepressants.

Then the officer noticed the pewter cross around Burnham's neck. When Burnham told him it contained his baby's ashes, the officer yanked it from his neck and poured the gray ashes on the ground, Burnham said.

"I couldn't believe he did that," Burnham said. "Something like that just destroys you."

The cross is engraved on one side with the name of Carli Miracle Burnham, who died in January 2002 at the age of 9 months. Etched on the other side are the dates of her birth and death.

She died accidentally when Burnham apparently rolled over on her in bed while they were taking a nap together. He was not charged.

Burnham said he doesn't know the name of the officer he says dumped the ashes, but he pointed out his photograph the day he reported the incident at the police station.

His attorney sent a letter in September stating the intent to sue but hasn't heard anything from Mount Dora police.

Police spokesman Lt. Roger Chilton said the investigation has been finished and a report will be released.

Police Chief Randy Scoggins wouldn't comment on the allegations but said if a complaint had been made in the wake of Hurricane Charley, the department's response might have been delayed.

Mount Dora is about 20 miles northwest of Orlando.