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Mother of Quawan Charles files lawsuit against Baldwin Police, St. Mary Parish Sheriff and three others

roxanne nelson_GMA.JPG
Posted at 3:43 PM, Nov 02, 2021

The mother of Quawan Charles has filed suit against Baldwin Police, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff and the three people who police believe were the last to see him alive.

The suit, which was fax-filed this past weekend, was filed by Roxanne Charles Nelson on her on behalf and on behalf of her son. Charles was 15 when he died in 2020.

Investigators released a video that they say showed Charles leaving his father's home and getting into a car. His body was later found in rural Loreauville. The Iberia Parish Coroner said he likely died of drowning, and found no injuries on his body that happened prior to death. A toxicology report listed marijuana, alcohol and mushrooms in his system.

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One person has been booked with criminal charges in connection with Charles' death. Janet Irvin, 37, has been booked with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and failing to report a missing child. If convicted on the contributing charge, she faces up to six months in jail. If convicted on the failure to report charge, she faces up to two years in jail.

The failure to report charge makes it a crime for the caretaker of a child over 13 years of age to fail to report them missing after 24 hours.

The lawsuit also names her teenage son and her boyfriend. It accuses them of failing to report Charles missing after he left their home after using drugs and alcohol, then having an argument with the teen. It accuses them of failing to call his family after he left and failing to look for him after he left.

The suit alleges that the actions or inaction of all the defendants contributed to or caused his death. The allegations against law enforcement are focused mainly on the handling of his mother's missing persons report; the suit alleges that neither agency has a proper procedure in place to handle reports of missing children.

Charles' family has said that he was reported missing the day he disappeared, October 30. His mother reported him missing to Baldwin Police, but were told that officers believed he was at a ball game or another community event. The lawsuit accuses the Baldwin Police Department of failing to follow a state law regarding missing children.

The law requires any law enforcement agency "receiving a report of a missing child or the recovery of a missing child and having reasonable grounds to believe the report is accurate" to pass the information on to the parish sheriff, state police and other agencies as appropriate. But Baldwin Police didn't feel it was required, the suit alleges, quoting a KATC interview in which police said the case didn't meet "the criteria of an abduction or kidnapping."

The suit faults the Baldwin Police Department and the St. Mary Parish Sheriff for failing to track Charles' cell phone, and alleges that the company that handled his phone could have provided the information if requested. Indeed, Charles' body was found the same day that the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office pinged his phone, the suit alleges.

The only reason Iberia deputies were looking for Charles is that his family called them for help, the suit alleges. We've reached out to the Baldwin Police Department and the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office for comment.

The St. Mary Pairsh Sheriff's Office says that due to the matter now being in litigation, they have no further response at this time.

Most agencies do not comment on pending litigation but if there are any responses we will update this story.

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