Mitrice Richardson: Mother, Aunt, Mentor and Filmmaker Told by L.A. County Sheriff: Your Daughter is Dead, Get Over It; Captain Lied About the Existence of Videotapes
Nobody in the Los Angeles media has as yet picked up on news about this deplorable incident, reported by Anne Soble of the Malibu Surfside News, about a meeting members of Mitrice Richardson’s family had with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee “by the book” Baca and some of his deputies, including LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore on January 6. It occurred three days before the department conducted a more thorough search of the area where she disappeared. Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton; her sister Lauren Sutton; psychologist Dr. Ronda Hampton who was her mentor at Cal State Fullerton; and filmmaker Charles Croft were there for over an hour when Baca and the deputies laid out the following:
Of major significance at the meeting, the four learned from what they all described as a “red-faced” Captain Martin that he was not forthright about there not being “any videotapes” of the missing woman at Lost Hills, and his previous assertions that there are only live-feed cameras at Lost Hills were inaccurate.
Martin told Baca that he has tapes “in his desk” of Richardson in the “booking cage” and other video/audio, some of which may be from the restaurant.
Croft said they were told that the tapes could not be made available to them until the tapes have been edited “to protect” other people. He said Martin did not clarify whether this is because of the presence of other inmates (which it is believed there were none at the time), or because of the civilian jailer who processed Richardson. The jailer, Sharon Cummings, declined a request by The News to be interviewed or to provide a photograph.
“The tapes are being edited to protect other people”? What people?
Number one, these guys are now on record as having LIED about the existence of videotapes that may clarify exactly what happened before and when the girl left the Lost Hills-Agoura Sheriff’s Station. They HID and covered up the fact of the tapes, which could be vital evidence about what exactly occurred that night.
Number two, just who are they protecting? If there were no inmates at the jail or in the drunk tank, Sharon Cummings, who was the civilian jailer, was the black woman who had spoken to Mitrice Richardson and had allegedly offered her a room and a bed for her sleep that night. She has repeatedly declined interviews from the media.
Cummings may be a vital witness in this tragedy, and yet she’s being sequestered, as it were, from giving any information. Is she being threatened by higher-ups within the Sheriff’s Department to keep quiet or else?
And why was Captain Martin holding on to those tapes, even as they were being asked for? Remember, he was one of the cops who said that Mitrice was in her right mind when she left the station, that she was no infant, but a grown woman. Was he hoping to use this against Mitrice’s family if they pressed too hard? Or do those tapes reveal something a bit more sinister?
That wasn’t all.
It was at this point in the meeting that Baca announced that Captain Tom Martin is being promoted to commander and will be replaced by an aide to Undersheriff Larry Waldie, Lt. Joseph H. Stephen Jr., who is being promoted to captain. LASD spokesperson Whitmore told The News this week that the change is “imminent.”
Martin, who was the commander of the sheriff’s station, was responsible for all that happened there that night. Check this from an earlier Surfside News article what Martin said about Michael Richardson’s wanting to see the videotapes.
Latice Sutton reiterated the allegation being made extensively in print and broadcast media that the sheriff’s department is withholding videotapes they have of Mitrice Richardson from the family.
But Capt. Tom Martin, the commander at Lost Hills, told the Malibu Surfside News this week:
“First, I can’t imagine how videotapes from the station, if they existed, would help find the missing person. The family asked for perimeter videotapes of the station that would show Mitrice leaving after being released from jail. We have no such tapes. We have cameras mounted at strategic points around the station which feed to monitors at the desk; however, they are live feed and don’t videotape.”
Martin is aware that Lost Hills is being slammed repeatedly by family members, especially Richardson’s father, and this is being picked up on blogs, talk radio and, increasingly, mainstream media.
The Lost Hills commander said, “We have reviewed our policy and procedures to ensure that we followed them appropriately in the release of Mitrice Richardson. The Office of Independent Review (OIR) has reviewed the arrest and release of Mitrice Richardson to ensure we followed policy.”
Why is Martin being promoted and transferred when his ass should be in stir for hiding evidence? And he should be demoted or fired for these acts. Additionally, Martin is even going to be sent to another station.
Lieutenant Stephen, on the other hand, is black. He’ll be the first black man to helm the Lost Hills-Agoura Station. As if this is going to help matters. It’s a whitewash: put a brother in there and shut the family up. We’ve done enough. That’s what this means. You know, at this point, it is not about putting a black face somewhere to show how “sensitive” law enforcement is. What happened to Mitrice Richardson does not call for these kinds of changes; it calls for something far, far more disciplinary. It calls for heads rolling.
Latice Sutton indicated that Sheriff Baca told the family “to face the fact your daughter is not with you,” and added, “She has gone to a better place.” The mother and aunt both said they question the appropriateness of the comments, but Whitmore said the sheriff’s words “were an expression of the sheriff’s compassion for the family.”
All four are adamant that during the meeting, Baca said, “She should never have been released with no means.” Whitmore said his recollections are different from those being expressed, but he said he could not elaborate further because family members have filed a legal claim that is expected to lead to a lawsuit. Whitmore said he can no longer comment specifically on aspects of the case that may be litigated.
The four participants also quote Baca as saying, “When you think about it, it’s the jailer’s fault [Richardson] was let go.” However, Whitmore said that isn’t what he recalls being said.
When asked if the arresting officers are going to be investigated, Baca is quoted by the four as saying “so much time has passed,” and it could be “uncomfortable and embarrassing” for them. The mother is also asking for staff time cards, shift change information and other documentation.
The three women said they perceived the session as marked by “insensitivity,” in that the mother and aunt think department officials were confused about who each of them is. Sutton said it was so obvious that she told them, “I get the impression that you don’t know my name.”
The family members said the meeting with Baca confirmed why it is “so critical to convince U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate a federal investigation,” which is what the family has demanded from the beginning.
These are some ice-cold mofos.
They didn’t know the difference between Latrice and Lauren Sutton? I haven’t heard that they are twins, but still.
Didn’t they have any psychologists there, other than Dr. Hampton, to help Sheriff Baca make his statements about Mitrice’s whereabouts to Mitrice’s mother and aunt? I mean, I believe that she is gone, too, poor thing. But there are other ways to make this plain, and to make heartfelt apologies especially since his men are responsible for this awful event. It seems Baca has more sympathy with his men than for the family that was injured, and that he was sworn to help protect, even if they have done something inexcusably wrong.
“So much time has passed.” It would be “embarrassing.” How is saving face more important than detailing what occurred in the diminution of a black woman’s life? Thousands of cases are put to trial after one or two years have passed. Baca is talking total BS.
Something is wrong. Something is VERY wrong. I was willing to cut the LASD some slack and say that some of them were idiots for letting Mitrice Richardson go like that, but now I’m beginning to believe something far worse and more sinister happened on that night. And all because they refuse to give up valuable information that they hid, or worse, that they may be keeping people from talking.
I said before, why is Baca assigning blame to Cummings for letting Mitrice go? I haven’t seen anything where the family has threatened her or suggested that they want to sue her. They just know that she knows something. Why are they shielding Cummings from the family? Is Cummings guilt-stricken about that night that she refuses to speak? I doubt whether the family is as much upset at her as they are against Sheriff’s Captain Martin and the other sheriff’s deputies who took Mitrice from Geoffrey’s Restaurant that night. I don’t think that they hold her responsible, but I think that she supplies a missing link of information regarding what occurred. She must speak out.
And then the arresting sheriff’s deputies are not going to be disciplined for not heeding what the manager and employees of Geoffrey’s said about Mitrice and sending her out to County mental health for observation? Examining their shift change information and time cards may also end any speculation that something happened to Mitrice at their hands, but so far, Baca refuses to give that information up. I think that his decision stinks: it makes things far worse and makes speculation and suspicion grow that the deputies did something to her.
And why has the Los Angeles FBI refused to get involved in this case? It calls–nay, screams–for Federal intervention, especially when you have cops who lie and hide evidence that may clarify the situation, and even absolve the deputies from suspicion. And Google searching any reporting from the area reveals this one article, after the news that after a more diligent search, Mitrice was not found. There’s been an effective media blackout. Why? They want this story to die, along with Mitrice Richardson.