Family of Mitrice Richardson Files Claim Against Los Angeles County

Mitrice Richardson

Mitrice Richardson on the cover of "Our Weekly: Los Angeles" in October, 2009 (Courtesy: Jasmyne Cannick)

Can’t say much about this development, except that it was bound to happen, whether they found the poor young woman or not, in preparation or a full-fledged lawsuit.

The family of Mitrice Richardson, who has been missing since she was released from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 17, has filed a multimillion-dollar claim against Los Angeles County, alleging that Sheriff’s Department personnel acted negligently.

The claim mentions a number of officers who interacted with Richardson, 24, from the time she was arrested at Geoffrey’s, a Malibu restaurant, for not paying her $89 dinner bill, until her release into the night without her car, cellphone or purse.

Staff at the restaurant said she was behaving bizarrely and speaking gibberish. The restaurant staffer who called the Sheriff’s Department said she was “acting crazy.”

In the months since her disappearance, homicide investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department say, they have found evidence in her diaries and text messages that she was suffering from severe bipolar disorder.

“We feel they had a duty to keep her there,” said attorney Leo Terrell, who filed the claim on behalf of Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton; her father, Michael Richardson; the missing woman; and her estate. “If they felt she had a mental issue, they had an obligation to hold her.”

The deputies could have held her for a mental evaluation. But the Sheriff’s Department has steadfastly maintained that in the hours it did detain her, she appeared and talked rationally. A department spokesman has said the department felt, if anything, that it had a legal obligation to release her in a timely manner.

The claim, which was filed last week, alleges negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death, according to Terrell.

Anne Soble at the Malibu Surfside News says that it’s time to consider a Mitrice Richardson law that would revise “policies for booking and releases at late hours in remote locations, especially with regard to individuals who appear to be exhibiting signs of mental stress or illness.”

There is more in her latest column regarding the 10-hour attempt to find Mitrice’s remains:

Privately, however, some crew members told the Malibu Surfside News that their skills and equipment are best for finding live victims not long after their mishaps occur. One grizzled veteran of more searches than he can list said the Santa Monica Mountains are able to swallow large automobiles whole, let alone a slight young woman, inadequately attired for wilderness exposure, who may have been grappling with mental illness. There have been cases where remains of the deceased were not discovered for years because they were hidden in shoulder-high chaparral and were found only by accident when an intrepid hiker waded into hostile terrain.

The criticism of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department’s booking and release polices continues to grow louder…Malibu should stand up for revised LASD booking and release policies. Certainly no one should be released from the local sheriff’s station alone on foot, ill-equipped for the elements, without money or means of communication, at midnight. That there might also be issues of race and gender involved in the treatment received by Richardson should also be part of the discussion.

Read the whole column. Soble has been a bit iffy about her subject at times, but when she got the wake-up call, she’s followed through.

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~ by blksista on January 14, 2010.

One Response to “Family of Mitrice Richardson Files Claim Against Los Angeles County”

  1. Michael Richardson NEVER HAS BEEN and IS NOT represented by Leo Terrell. This claim was intially filed by Leo Terrell and Latice Sutton, Mitrice’s mother, both WITHOUT Michael Richardson’s approval and consent.

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