Malibu Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest Mitrice Richardson, Then Release Her Without Money, Transportation; Now She’s Disappeared

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Mitrice Richardson competed in the 2007 Miss Fullerton Pageant, and planned to do so once more next year (Courtesy: OC Register)

Mitrice Richardson competed in the 2007 Miss Fullerton Pageant, and planned to do so once more next year (Courtesy: OC Register)

Thanks to The Field Negro for this tip.

This just stuns me. The sheriff’s deputies let a young woman out into the pitch black with nothing and nobody to help her home?

A possible sighting occurred a few hours after her release, about 6:30 a.m. Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies took a call from a residence in the 500 block of Cold Canyon Road in Malibu regarding a woman in the back yard.

Detective Chuck Knolls of the Los Angeles Police Department’s robbery and homicide unit said residents asked the woman if she was OK and she said she was fine. By the time deputies got there, Knolls added, the woman was gone.

If the woman was Richardson, she had traveled about five miles, hiking out of the industrial area into the nearby mountains. The station where she’d been held is on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains, near the 101 Freeway and the Ventura County line.

The homes on the road she might have traveled are spread far apart. There are no street lights. The peaks nearby drop up to 600 feet. The canyons below are dense with brush.

Cal State Fullerton grad Mitrice Richardson has been missing for nine days.

From CBS News via KTLA:

Mitrice Richardson, 24, was reportedly intoxicated and unable to pay her $89 bill at Geoffrey’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu about 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, the newspaper reported.

Deputies arrested Richardson at the Malibu-Lost Hills station, where they booked her on suspicion of not paying for the meal and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Los Angeles Times.

Mitrice Richardsons booking photo, hours before she disappeared into the Malibu night (Courtesy: Afrospear)

Mitrice Richardson's booking photo, hours before she disappeared into the Malibu night (Courtesy: Afrospear)

She was released about 1:25 a.m. the next day, he said.

“She exhibited no signs of mental illness or intoxication,” said Whitmore, explaining why she was released. “She was fine. She’s an adult.”

According to her mother, Latice Sutton, a manager she spoke to at Geoffrey’s said Richardson appeared to be in “no condition to drive.”

Mitrice Richardson lived in southeast Los Angeles, arguably 40 miles away from home. The circumstances surrounding her behavior on the evening of September 16-17 is considered out of character for friends, supporters and family members.

“She was sweet, but was saying that the ocean was calling her to Malibu. The behavior was not right,” said Jeff Peterson, owner of Geoffrey’s Malibu, an upscale, oceanfront restaurant where Richardson dined Sept. 16, the night before her disappearance.

Richardson ate alone, ordering a steak dinner and a drink. But when presented with the $89 bill, she said she had no money.

Richardson told restaurant employees that she was from Mars and started to talk to them in a made up language. She also became fixated on a nearby computer screen, looking closely at the numbers.

“She was saying ‘There is an eight,’ and ‘That’s an eight,’ and ‘Eight is my favorite number’,” Peterson said.

Richardson asked to call her 90-year-old great-grandmother, with whom she lives in Los Angeles, as a way to settle the bill. But the restaurant wouldn’t accept a payment without a signature.

Richardson’s great-grandmother then called Richardson’s mother, Latrice Sutton, and explained the situation. Sutton said by the time she called the restaurant, her daughter was being arrested and placed in a sheriff’s patrol car.

This was a young woman who was a college graduate, who was returning to school to pick up a doctorate for an eventual career in clinical psychology.

Now get this. First the sheriff’s deputies say that there was no room for Richardson to sleep it off at the station. Then, according to Electronic Urban Report, the deputies said that the woman refused to sleep it off at the station or to have the option of staying at the lobby of the station until morning.

Joni Reynolds thinks that Mitrice Richardson is just another missing black woman. If her last name had been Lohan or Spears, the family attorney believes, she would have been treated far differently.

In an interview, her father, Michael Richardson, questioned the Sheriff’s Department’s decision to release her without knowing for certain whether she was intoxicated or had arranged for transportation. “They allowed her to walk out of that facility and down that road in the pitch black night,” he said. “That’s not right. Now, I just want to find my child.”

Her parents along with their lawyer appeared on the Today Show. I commend the Today Show for bringing attention to this case. I can not help but think of the amount of media that the Annie Le case received. She was the Yale medical student who was seen entering a lab at the university and not seen leaving it. The police reportedly worked on this story by their own account 24/7 and they found a suspect.

This girl was allowed to walk out into the night unescorted. They had her car so they knew she had no means of transportation. Her lawyer suggested if her name had been Lohan or Spears she would have received a ride home. [Matt] Lauer asked her mother whether Mitrice was “street savvy.” Her mother said no she was not; she actually had lived a sheltered life full of positive things.

I wonder whether the same thing would have happened if her surname had been Houston, Knowles, Carey, or Jackson.

Not every black woman or girl knows something of the street. Especially middle class black women and girls. Their parents try very hard to steer them away from that kind of life. Unfortunately, most of America must think that if you turn black youngsters like this out, they could survive on their own like feral cats.

Way back in the Southern past, though, there were a few policemen or sheriff’s deputies who would take advantage of black women who were drugged or liquored up, and then the women, still under the influence, were allowed to walk into a swamp, onto a train track or into a wilderness so that evidence of rape could be covered up. I may have let my imagination run wild on that one. But the deputies’ version of events does not add up.

The Malibu branch of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is looking worse than bad now. I’m sure not a lot of black people end up in jail in Malibu, but that’s no excuse. I wonder just whose bright idea this was to push her out of the station and let her stagger off to encounter whatever fate has overtaken her. Whoever he or she is, s/he’s responsible for her death or maiming.

The Los Angeles Police Department is widening its search for the young woman, but it doesn’t look good.

Richardson is African-American, 5-foot-5-inches and approximately 135 pounds. She has brown, curly hair and hazel eyes, and was last seen wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans, police said. According to a flyer made by her family, Richardson has tattoos on her lower abdomen and behind her neck.

Police asked anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the LAPD’s Missing Persons Unit at (213) 485-5381, or 1-877-LAPD-24-7 after business hours or on weekends.

~ by blksista on September 26, 2009.

9 Responses to “Malibu Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest Mitrice Richardson, Then Release Her Without Money, Transportation; Now She’s Disappeared”

  1. One more thing, the police did not release her in some dark wilderness in Malibu to fend for herself. They released her in Calabasas – a nice, safe, rather affluent suburban community.

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    • a nice, safe, rather affluent suburban community

      …whose mostly white residents would call the cops in a minute on a rather strange-looking, dirty and disheveled black woman in their backyard, and one certainly did. Unfortunately, the child wandered off once more.

      Not all of Malibu can be considered a suburb. I remember being on part of the PCH with someone else who was driving, and it could get rough and rugged there.

      The news reports say that the sighting occurred in MALIBU, not Calabasas, which means that she had walked at least five miles in rough, rural country. She also called from the sheriff’s station to two different locations before wandering off, but these calls have not been investigated. Why not?

      The decisions and statements that those deputies made on that night were not necessarily the right ones. Would they have kicked out Lindsay Lohan or Solange Knowles as quickly? I think not.

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  2. I’m not sure why Mitrice’s family is still calling out the restaurant and its owner. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the restaurant, it offers crap food with great view at ridiculously high prices, not worth going with or without this incident. However, the restaurant did nothing wrong. As a business owner, what Mitrice did was stealing. As for refusing to take her grandmother and mother’s credit card payment over the phone, the restaurant did the right thing, that is the policy and it is there to protect fraud. Can you imagine anyone being able to read out your credit card numbers over the phone to charge for something? It is also true that the reason for refusing payment on the phone is because if a business accepts that, it is not protected in case of a bill dispute. Now, her mother and (I assumed) the family attorney is calling that petty and the wrong thing to do. In what world would that be wrong or “petty”? Of course a business looks to protect itself, otherwise it should not run a business. The family is pointing fingers saying that their daughter should’ve received a special treatment because she appeared crazy, how is that reasonable frame of thought?
    As for treating her like a “dog” – I’m not sure how the family came to that. Her mother said the restaurant should’ve been more understanding. Imagine a business being understanding to any person who stole and appeared crazy in their establishment.

    As for the police department. I have a natural distrust to them. I’ve had my own bad experiences. But it is very likely that Mitrice was halfway sober and since she had no priors, she was released. Should they have released her? I don’t know. What if she demanded to be released? Threatened to sue for wrongful detainment? Maybe they saw her as a person trying to pull a fast one however since she didn’t appear dangerous, did not have priors and appeared capable enough (that assessment is up in the air as we all know but capable enough can also be subjective, the officer releasing her could very well assessed her condition to be capable enough), they let her go. The view that’s being portrayed is that the police should’ve played the role of a sitter but it’s hard to tell without knowing all the facts and what they’ve state are not necessarily lies. The one indisputable fact is Mitrice is an adult and if she had displayed even halfway coherence, it doesn’t matter what the police told her family to her release time, she is an adult and they’re not bound to her family, they only have to deal with her. The story isn’t complete and it can be seen and interpreted in many different ways, depending on which side you’re on.

    It is an unfortunate situation to be sure. I’m just not sure the fault isn’t mostly on Mitrice herself. What she did was illegal (both in stealing and in taking illegal drugs) and sometimes that has unfortunate consequences.

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    • Number one, we don’t know in what kind of shape Mitrice actually was. We don’t know what drugs or other substances–other than alcohol–she was on at that time. We don’t know whether the marijuana was a plant. (Her family and friends have reported that her behavior had been odd for at least a day before she disappeared.) We don’t know all the details because we don’t have her with us.

      Second, she should not have been escorted out of the station without ID or money. As pissy as cops can get about people not having ID, you would think that they wouldn’t escort her out that fast. Leaving the premises without people coming to call for her is proof enough that she was unstable at that moment and unable to make rational decisions. Why would she wander about 40 miles away from home?

      Third, the woman was not broke. She had $2,000 in a bank account, which at last report had not been disturbed. We don’t know what was in her mind to say that she didn’t have money to pay for her meal. To insinuate that she was trying to pull a scam while faking instability on the restaurant is pure speculation. It used to be that errant customers would spend several hours in the kitchen to work the cost off.

      Like I said, I don’t blame the restaurant as much as I do the sheriff’s deputies.

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  3. It’s sad that this woman is missing, and I do hope she is okay…. BUT, you and I both know that if the police had tried to keep her at the police station, they would have been racists for not allowing a black woman to leave the station. It’s really hard to know what to do in a situation like this one, because you can’t win either way. Quit crying racism about everything, and things like this won’t happen!!!

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    • Look, in one report, the deputies told her family that she would be released at 4:30 in the morning; and then, when they inquired about her welfare when they went to pick her up, the cops told the family that she had been released earlier at 1:30 a.m.

      Something is wrong here. Very wrong. And racism may indeed be at the center of all this.

      I don’t blame the restaurant, I blame the sheriff’s department.

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  4. This is insane……I’m so sorry to hear this story. It is a shame that peaple just want do there jobs any more this is a very dangerous world we live in and we are our brothers keeper/ my prayers go out to the family…………..Mario L. Davis

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  5. I am using this for my criminal justice 101 at Bellevue college in washington. our teacher wanted us to write something in the news happened last week that captured our attention.

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    • Good for you. And if you are interested in becoming a cop, be a responsible cop for all.

      The sheriff’s spokesperson Officer Whitmore said that they were not “babysitters.” Well, what are they? They could have allowed her to sleep in the jail until her people picked her up. They have provided conflicting accounts of what happened to her at the station and what prompted her release.

      Something is very wrong.

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