An Ohio mother is suing the police department charged with leading an investigation into her missing daughter who ended up dead.
Latosha Bartlett-Powell is the mother of Aurora McCarter, 17, who disappeared in July 2020. Bartlett-Powell says she misses her daughter greatly and is saddened she couldn’t see her daughter live out her career aspirations to work for the FBI.
“Anyone you talked to about Aurora, they would tell you she believed in doing what was right, she believed in standing up for the underdog,” said Bartlett-Powell.
Bartlett-Powell says she last saw her daughter after they had an argument at the house and McCarter left to spend time with her boyfriend. “Aurora was only 17 so she was with her boyfriend at the time, and I did not approve of the boyfriend at all,” Bartlett-Powell said.
After six days without seeing or hearing from McCarter, Bartlett-Powell contacted the Golf Manor Police Department on July 13, 2020, to file a missing persons report. She says she gave her daughter’s 18-year-old boyfriend’s phone and vehicle information to police to help expedite the investigation, however, she says she never received any updates from police regarding the investigation.
“They were aware of enough information to help them do something, if not, reach out to another municipality,” Barlett-Powell said.
In a lawsuit filed against the Golf Manor Police Department, the responding officer and her daughter’s killer, Bartlett-Powell also claims police did not notify neighboring police departments of her daughter’s disappearance and failed to move quickly on the case, violating Ohio law.
Ohio law calls for police to “take prompt action” to locate the reported mising child. Police have to gather readily available information about the child and import it into the National Crime Information Center Computer immediately and then notify parents this has been done, Bartlett-Powell claims police did not communicate with her at all after she filed the report. The law also calls for police to notify other area law enforcement agencies of the missing child.
“Our state law has a specific codified section that imposes responsibilities on law enforcement agencies to do certain things when they receive a missing child report, it’s in our state law, Ohio revised state code, 2901.30,” said Fanon Rucker, Bartlett-Powell’s attorney.
A month after McCarter was reported missing, Bartlett-Powell learned the fate of her daughter when she was found shot dead by Calvester Coleman, who police accused of pulling the trigger in the shooting in Cincinnati on Aug. 14, 2020, as she was caught in the crosshairs of an apparent gun sale gone bad. McCarter was sitting in the backseat of a car with her boyfriend and another teenager when Coleman allegedly shot into the car. One of the bullets struck and killed McCarter. Coleman is being tried as an adult for the fatal shooting as reported by WKRC.
In Bartlett-Powell’s lawsuit, she places blame on Golf Manor officer Mackenzie Recker, who took the missing persons report, claiming, “as the proximate and direct result of the gross negligence and/or reckless conduct of Recker, McCarter suffered fatal injuries.”
“I know it’s certain policies and procedures that I know and now I’m more aware of that they’re supposed to follow, they never contacted me, they never did anything,” Bartlett-Powell said.
Rucker said, “It’s not just we feel the officers should have done something, the law says the officers had a responsibility and a duty an obligation to do those things.
Fanon Rucker, Bartlett-Powell’s attorney, says police have a long track record of slow-walking missing persons cases of Black people compared to white people, and although Rucker stops short of alleging outright racism, he suggests race is a factor in police not finding McCarter within the five weeks she was declared missing and when she was killed.
“This was a young Black woman and nationally they simply do not address young Black missing women the same way they address missing young white women; it’s the truth. I’m not alleging discrimination here, but I’m saying they look awful similar,” Rucker said.
Bartlett-Powell says she wants some accountability from police to come out of her lawsuit that alleges damages exceed $50,000.
“The hope is, the anticipation is that through some type of legal action, broader policy can be changed, and other parents will not be sitting in the same seat that Ms. Bartlett is today,” said Rucker.
“The next time they have an Aurora or similar to Aurora, they remember, like the sign they have in their office when you walk in there, ‘Do Your Job,’ ” said Bartlett-Powell.
Atlanta Black Star sought comment from Golf Manor administrator Ron Hirth on the allegations lodged against the police in the lawsuit, but he did not respond to our request for comment before the report was filed.
“Aurora was as her name is, Aurora, I named her specifically because I knew what she would be, a light to the world. Maybe some change will come through Aurora’s light” said Bartlett-Powell of her daughter.