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Article: "What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?"

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  • Article: "What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?"

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40544041...os_angeles_ca/

    By Beverly White and Julie Brayton
    NBCLosAngeles.com NBCLosAngeles.com
    updated 12/7/2010 9:47:17 AM ET 2010-12-07T14:47:17

    Last September park rangers found Mitrice Richardson’s remains in Malibu Canyon, eleven months after she disappeared following a misdemeanor arrest and release from jail in Malibu.

    On Monday night, a concerned crowd filled a civil rights meeting about her unresolved death investigation. Front and center was Mitrice’s father.

    "If I have to stand out there and beat a snare drum, and expose my un-physiqued body to get attention to this case, that’s what I'm gonna do," according to Michael Richardson, Mitrice's father.

    "This man’s daughter is sitting in a grave because somebody in the police department did not do their job," says Arnette Edwards, a concerned citizen.

    And so LA County Sheriff Lee Baca explained why his deputies released the possibly bipolar Richardson without a car or cellphone, after midnight almost a year ago.

    "There was no indication from the reports that we’ve reviewed, that she was inebriated, or performing as an individual that needed some additional assistance psychologically," according to Sheriff Lee Baca, LA County Sheriff's Department.
    “Let him go, Lou. Someone driving that fast has no time for a ticket.”
    -Chief Wiggum

  • #2
    What authority did LASD have to refuse to let her leave?
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by DAL View Post
      What authority did LASD have to refuse to let her leave?
      You know as well as I do that this job is a double edged sword. They would've been sued whether the held her or released her. Just greedy people and shysters.
      God made perfect cops.......The rest he put in cars.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bully View Post
        You know as well as I do that this job is a double edged sword. They would've been sued whether the held her or released her. Just greedy people and shysters.
        While I don't disagree, I believe that those who assert that LASD should have kept her there should explain the legal basis for keeping her there.
        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

        Comment


        • #5
          Why didn't she get her property when released? I understand the car was probably impounded from the restaraunt or left in the parking lot but was her phone in the car?

          That's the only part of it that seems odd to me. Otherwise she got booked and O.R.ed, she was an adult, displayed nothing to be placed on a 5150, nothing wrong with it.
          Originally Posted by VegasMetro
          maybe it’s me but I think a six pack and midget porn makes for good times?????

          Comment


          • #6
            If she didn't pose as an immediate threat to her safety of the safety of others, she couldn't be taken into custody as per 5150 WIC. Unfortunately she was taken into custody on other charges (I believe "defrauding an innkeeper") and once in custody, the arresting agency has an affirmative duty to insure her safety from any apparent physical or mental problems. That's why every person that gets booked, is questioned regarding their health status and why those who display symptoms of mental illness (including but not limited to suicidal tendencies) are watched closely even if they aren't placed on a 5150 WIC hold.

            The question here seems to be: Was this woman released because of her mental condition after booking (for the criminal violation) and did the department incur more civil liability for letting her go, than to keep her in custody and provide for her safety? I'm not sure there is a clear cut answer. Releasing someone on an "OR" doesn't absolve an officer or an agency from providing care while that person was in custody.

            If this arrestee had been taken into custody with a serious, but not immediately life threatening injury (ie: untreated broken bones, staph infection, etc...) or had a significant mental problem that wasn't enough to justify a 5150 WIC hold (delusional, paranoid, Down's Syndrome, etc...) it could be argued that the department was required to provide a certain level of care, prior to release. Example: Suppose this woman had Down's Syndrome and functioned with the mental abilities of a 12 year old child. (Something a deputy might not be able to accurately assess.) She might not have been arrestable per 5150 WIC, but (once arrested for a crime) could the department have just released her from custody and reasonably expected this subject to safely find her way home on her own late at night, in an area surrounded by rugged wilderness?

            I don't know what this woman's mental state was, but once she was in the custody of the sheriff's department, she was their problem. Cutting her loose (without taking some steps to insure her safety), might not have been the best move.
            Last edited by pulicords; 12-08-2010, 10:16 AM.
            "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mtxpro752 View Post
              Why didn't she get her property when released? I understand the car was probably impounded from the restaraunt or left in the parking lot but was her phone in the car?

              That's the only part of it that seems odd to me. Otherwise she got booked and O.R.ed, she was an adult, displayed nothing to be placed on a 5150, nothing wrong with it.
              IIRC, her phone ect was in the car that was impounded......the main reason she was booked (and not cited in the field like we do with 95%+ of all misdemeanors) was that she did not have her ID with her at the time.

              If she did not appear to be 5150 enough to be held on a hold (which requires some very specific actions), then they had nothing to hold her on. She was offered the chance to stay in the lobby until someone picked her up.....she decided not to.

              As others have pointed out, there would be complaints and/or lawsuits no matter what action was taken with this incident.
              The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

              "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

              "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
                As others have pointed out, there would be complaints and/or lawsuits no matter what action was taken with this incident.
                Not all arrests result in complaints or lawsuits, but those that end in the arrestee's disappearance/death are pretty much guaranteed to result in both. I realize that "20/20" hindsight is something we all deal with, but looking at this incident and how it was (or could have been) handled might help prevent such a thing from happening again. LEOs deal with subjects having various degrees of mental illness everyday and it's through (bad) experiences like this one that policy and procedures change routinely.
                "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pulicords View Post
                  Not all arrests result in complaints or lawsuits, but those that end in the arrestee's disappearance/death are pretty much guaranteed to result in both. I realize that "20/20" hindsight is something we all deal with, but looking at this incident and how it was (or could have been) handled might help prevent such a thing from happening again. LEOs deal with subjects having various degrees of mental illness everyday and it's through (bad) experiences like this one that policy and procedures change routinely.
                  This one was going to go that way one way or the other from the start.....

                  Another issue with this type of incident is that my agency has been hammered for 'over detention' of inmates for years.....as soon as someone is eligible for release, out they go.

                  She was an adult, plain and simple........and since her family has been making allegations that a deputy murdered her, you will find that my sympathy level is right around at zero.
                  The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                  "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                  "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Once again, those people who contend that LASD should have kept Ms. Richardson at the Lost Hills station against her will should state the legal basis for doing so, and the facts that would support the exercise of that presumed legal authority.
                    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DAL View Post
                      Once again, those people who contend that LASD should have kept Ms. Richardson at the Lost Hills station against her will should state the legal basis for doing so, and the facts that would support the exercise of that presumed legal authority.
                      Some other (more pertinent) questions might be:
                      1) What was the arrestee's mental state when she was taken into custody and booked?
                      2) If she had obvious mental/physical problems at the time of arrest, was she evaluated by professionals prior to being booked into a county facility?
                      3) Was she mentally or physically capable of caring for her own safety at the time she was released?

                      Lets face it, if this woman displayed erratic conduct prior to her arrest (to third party witnesses) and was observably unstable while in custody by LASD personnel, her safety was their responsibility from the time she was arrested and didn't end just because they gave her a cite and let her go. They impounded her vehicle, transported her to a relatively isolated county facility (which was surrounded by rough terrain) and were required to assess her mental and physical condition prior to, during and after the booking process. While LEOs may not be required to take anyone into custody for a mental evaluation (under 5150 WIC), kicking someone out the front door of the station (with a cite) doesn't absolve the personnel from civil liability arising from cases like this where a "special relationship" has been established.

                      If the woman was in mental or physical distress (and the fact that she was found dead in a nearby canyon certainly supports that assumption), then how would this situation differ from one where a drunk (arrested under PC 647(f) PC) was prematurely released from custody, only to be struck while crossing the street in front of the station? I don't think a civil jury would excuse the county from liability under a "he wasn't in our custody" theory, if the guy had say a .30 BA reading.

                      While I certainly don't think for a minute that the deputies "murdered" the decedent, I can't help but wonder how much the county is going to pony up for either the settlement or civil award (if this goes to trial). The fact that the death scene/investigation was apparently handled in a haphazard manner will only give credence to allegations that county personnel showed deliberate indifference to their arrestee's condition. The end result will be a reduction in services to the taxpayers, in direct proportion to the amount of money being awarded to the plaintiffs and their attorney(s).

                      How could this have been avoided? I suppose that if the option to place her on a 5150 WIC hold wasn't available, they could have either driven Richardson to the home of a responsible family member or called such a person to pick her up before releasing the subject from custody on a written promise to appear. A little extra effort might have avoided not only the pending loss of desperately needed county funds, but also prevented the mammoth loss of confidence experienced by citizens served by the agency involved.
                      Last edited by pulicords; 12-08-2010, 04:18 PM.
                      "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        (1) There was a person contacted (Mother)......she chose not to wait for her.

                        (2) It also does not say 'Taxi Service' on the side of the radio car, we do not 'drive someone home' in pretty much any case.

                        (3) The 647(f) argument is an apples and oranges argument and you damn well know it.......as we are required by state law to keep someone that is under arrest for that charge in custody until they sober up.....a .30 would be at the hospital anyway.....and if not, they would not be released for around 18 hours.

                        (4) Lost Hills station is not that remote......there are more than a few businesses right down the street.

                        (5) The location where she was found is also not that close to the station....it is several miles away. How she got there is anyones' guess.

                        (6) How could this be avoided?.....very easily.....dont be a thief and go into a restaurant, order a meal, and refuse to pay for it.

                        I truly hope the county does not even consider settling this case......I would much rather see the county spend an amount of money to defend the case to ensure that the plaintiff gets NOTHING at the end of the trial, rather than rolling over and playing dead at the start and coughing up a settlement.
                        Last edited by LA DEP; 12-08-2010, 04:27 PM.
                        The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                        "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                        "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It seems that the proffered basis for preventing Ms. Richardson from leaving -- which in itself would be both a crime (PC § 236) and a tort -- is not only conjecture but also contradicted by the report of the Independent Counsel.

                          And, even if a basis could be found for detaining her, that would not mean that there was a legal obligation to do so. Law enforcement officers have considerable discretion. By the way, it is quite clear that she was not "kick[ed] out the front door of the station." To the contrary, she was encouraged to stay.
                          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                          Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DAL View Post
                            It seems that the proffered basis for preventing Ms. Richardson from leaving -- which in itself would be both a crime (PC § 236) and a tort -- is not only conjecture but also contradicted by the report of the Independent Counsel.

                            And, even if a basis could be found for detaining her, that would not mean that there was a legal obligation to do so. Law enforcement officers have considerable discretion. By the way, it is quite clear that she was not "kick[ed] out the front door of the station." To the contrary, she was encouraged to stay.
                            PC 236 (False Imprisonment) would hardly apply. The Sheriff's Department had already legally arrested the woman and when to release her should have been tempered by the deputies observations of her allegedly impaired mental/physical condition during the time she was in custody. If a preponderance of evidence shows that this woman was mentally ill, was denied treatment (while in custody) and was unnecessarily endangered by the conditions of her release, we (the taxpayers) are going to pay for it. Using the word "discretion" can only provide so much cover. The fact this woman ended up dead, under these circumstances clearly brings into question the "assessment" by deputies that she didn't need an evaluation by mental health professionals.

                            While I certainly hope these decisions weren't made because it was inconvenient to provide Ms Richardson with the care she was entitled to, it's extremely likely that a jury wouldn't buy these excuses. If DAL (or any other attorney representing the county) really believes this isn't the case, there's no reason the county position can't be argued in trial. Any attempts by the plaintiffs to settle the case should be rejected outright, if it's so clear that no one acted negligently.
                            "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                            Comment

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