GOLF MANOR, Ohio — A family suing the Village of Golf Manor believes race played a part in how hard officers searched for the couple's missing daughter, who turned up dead weeks later. The parents want more than money. They hope to ensure greater equality in how law enforcement handles missing persons' cases.
Aurora McCarter's parents needed help in 2020. Their 17-year-old daughter was missing. They told Golf Manor Police that McCarter was likely with a boyfriend, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday. McCarter's mother, Latosha Bartlett-Powell, gave the officer taking the report the boyfriend's phone number and warned that McCarter could be in danger, according to the lawsuit.
"What I expected him to do, what I entrusted him to do was to help me find my child or let me know where she was at or do something," Bartlett-Powell said. "Help."
Though Ohio Revised Code requires law enforcement looking for missing children to "take prompt action" and "concerted efforts" to find them, McCarter's family claims Officer Mackenzie Recker did not reach out to other law enforcement agencies that were possibly in a position to help find Aurora.
"I support police, but when this happened it just makes you think like, 'Why my daughter?" Ricky McCarter, Aurora's father, said. "How come you didn't help her?"
Weeks after McCarter's disappearance, Cincinnati police found her body. The teen who dreamed of becoming an FBI agent was once a standout in CPD's Explorer program for youth interested in law enforcement careers.
"She wanted to make change," Bartlett-Powell said. "She did. I guess this is the way that it has to be done."
The family's lawyer, Fanon Rucker, said racial bias was a factor. Citing FBI statistics that show Black Americans make up 34% of missing person cases despite being just 13% of the overall population, he argues that cases of missing young Black and white women do not get equal attention or treatment.
"I'm not accusing the officer of racism," Rucker said. "I'm not accusing Golf Manor of being insensitive to the fact (McCarter) was a young Black woman who is missing. But I am saying it's a hell of a coincidence."
"As of this moment, the Village has not received any documents related to any lawsuit," Village of Golf Manor Administrator and Fiscal Officer Ron Hirth said in an email. "If or when we do, I would refer you to our legal counsel."
McCarter's parents are seeking enough damages to make any police officer or law enforcement agency think twice to ensure they treat all missing persons' cases with equality.
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