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Parents sue over autopsy photos

A police officer was reprimanded two years ago after his teenage son took autopsy photos from his briefcase and showed them around school.

Another police officer showed the pictures to the dead boy's mother.

Now, the dead boy's parents are suing Pinellas Park.

"I'm not allowed to make much comment at this point," said Robert Dougherty, the attorney for the parents, Linda and William Martin. "I don't think it's appropriate when the case is just getting off the ground."

Likewise, Pinellas Park officials declined to comment except to confirm that the two police officers named as co-defendants in the lawsuit are still department employees.

The Martins are asking for more than $15,000 in damages for emotional distress caused by the actions of Pinellas Park police officers who were acting on the city's behalf, according to the lawsuit filed in the 6th Circuit Court, which covers Pinellas and Pasco counties.

According to the lawsuit, this is what happened:

After Christopher Martin, 18, died in Pinellas Park on Feb. 20, 1996, his body was sent for an autopsy. Pinellas Park police Officer Dan Hansen attended the autopsy without permission from the parents or other family members and photographed the teen's body. At some point, fellow Pinellas Park police Officer Charles Prichard got the photos and took them home.

Prichard's son, Eric, found the color photographs and took them to Pinellas Park High School, where he showed them to several people.

School officials called Linda Martin and Pinellas Park police Officer Gene La Pouttre when they discovered the pictures. La Pouttre showed the photos to Linda Martin.

The lawsuit alleges that the actions were negligent and the officers should have known they would upset the dead boy's parents.

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