LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – The father of Mitrice Richardson, a 22-year-old Black woman whose remains were found in Malibu in early August, after she had been missing for 11 months, plans to lobby state legislators to pass a law that would better protect people who are released from inmate custody.
“What began as our fight to bring Mitrice home is now a struggle to bring Mitrice justice,” said Michael Richardson, who doesn’t want others to experience the pain he felt.
According to Mr. Richardson, the proposed “Mitrice Richardson Custodial Law,” would ensure that no one else’s child could ever be released from jail into the night and without their belongings.
The bill would not just apply to inmates who are released, but also to hospital patients released.As a 19-year emergency veteran, Mr. Richardson is lobbying that any agency with custodial rights over someone be liable to release them to a licensed, insured driver that signs an affidavit for their responsibility.
Mr. Richardson and Mitrice’s mother, Latice Sutton, have both filed lawsuits against the county of Los Angeles and the Sheriffs Department.
Mr. Richardson said he is seeking the truth about numerous inconsistencies in what he says he was told about his daughter the night she went missing.
“The lawsuit is for an unspecified amount because my attorney wants the residents and jury to hear this case and they come up with something that is comparable because the community is outraged now.A lot of people were hoping she just didn’t want to be found, but since they’ve found her remains right in the vicinity of the station, people want some changes,” he said.
“When they get under sworn oaths and we start taking their statements, it will be a whole different ball game … They have not responded to my lawsuit but the thing with them is this could have come out a whole lot better than what it has if they were forthright, answered some questions, and worked with us,” Mr. Richardson said.
Mitrice’s family and supporters have held candlelight vigils, open memorial services, and a private funeral for her.
Mitrice was initially arrested for failing to pay an $89 dinner tab at Geoffrey’s Restaurant.When owner Jeff Peterson called police he told officers she was acting strange.Sheriffs booked her, then released her late in the remote Lost Hills area of Malibu on September 17, 2009.
Among Mr. Richardson’s questions: How could a police report be taken at 9:50 p.m. when it also indicates that the initial call to 911 and the dispatch was a 9:55 p.m.?Since deputies reported that she made two phone calls while in custody, why hasn’t the department released the phone records?
Sheriff Lee Baca has maintained that his deputies followed procedure and did nothing wrong when they released Mitrice.During an Aug. 12 press conference, Sheriff Baca said there was no way her remains could show if there was foul play and the cause of death may never be known.
“Two weeks later they find two babies in an abandoned building that’s about 75-years-old and they gave us the cause of death in two weeks.We have a child that we found remains on that’s been out there 11 months and you’re going to tell me that we’re not going to find the cause of death? I think you’re dead wrong,” Mr. Richardson said.He feels the entire ordeal has been a cover up to protect bad policing.
Jasmyne Cannick, a journalist and community activist who has worked to help find Mitrice and tracked the case, issued a call for the Sheriffs, who came in contact with her, processed, and released her, to take lie detector tests. She and other community activists have launched a petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/leebaca1/petition.html) partly because the sheriffs will not produce any video of Mitrice exiting the station as they said she did.
Of 540 voters that were asked in an online survey whether they think the Sheriffs Department had something to do with her death, 87 percent (469) have voted yes and 13 percent (71) have voted no to date.
The L.A. County Office of Independent Review concurred and indicated in a confidential report released to County Supervisors July 9 that deputies acted under state law and departmental policy in booking and releasing Mitrice.
“The Office of Independent Review is a joke.To not find them guilty is a joke and the joke is the Office of Independent Review are watchdogs and their job is to watch the master, in this case, the sheriffs.” Of course it would not find them guilty, Mr. Richardson said.
“You just don’t turn these people out in the middle of the night, with no place to go, not knowing where they’re going, and then they wound up deceased,” he added.
Unexplained disappearance of 24-year old has family puzzled (FCN, 10-26-2009)