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Mitrice Richardson refused an offer to stay, jailer says

With the announcement Thursday that authorities had identified the skeletal remains of Mitrice Richardson, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has come under renewed scrutiny for its decision to release her from custody far from home in the middle of the night.

But the civilian jailer who processed Richardson at the Malibu-Lost Hills station on the night she was released told The Times on Wednesday that Richardson was offered the opportunity to stay but ultimately refused, saying she planned to "hook up with friends."

Sharon Cummings, a custody assistant at the Malibu-Lost Hills station, said Richardson was slightly nervous but lucid while being booked for arrest after behaving strangely and being unable to pay her $89 dinner bill at a local restaurant.

The booking process lasted less than two hours, Cummings said. During the time, Richardson was given a phone and made several calls. The jailer said she did not listen to the conversations but talked with Richardson intermittently, discussing gospel music and karma.

When authorities learned she had no outstanding warrants and had signed papers authorizing her release, Richardson was given the option to stay or go.

"I asked her 'Is someone coming here to pick you up?' and she said, 'No.' " Cummings said. "I asked her were they [someone to give her a ride] on the way. She said she was going try and hook up with her friends.”

Cummings said she urged Richardson to stay because it was not only dark but cold.

"I told her maybe she should wait until morning and have breakfast," Cummings said. "She thought about it and said ‘Maybe I’ll stay.’ "

The jailer left to get some keys. When Cummings returned, Richardson had changed her mind and said she didn't want stay, according to the jailer.

The Office of Independent Review, which oversees the Sheriff's Department found that the department "properly and legally released" Richardson, according to a 58-page report.

But in the press conference identifying Richardson as the victim, Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged the Richardson case had triggered "soul searching” in the Sheriff's Department.

Although sheriff's personnel acted properly, "Properly doesn’t mean we couldn’t have done something more,” Baca said in a news conference.

Cummings said that when detainees are showing signs of mental instability, jailers immediately contact the watch sergeant or watch commander. That didn't occur because Richardson was calm the entire time she was in custody.

In the end, Cummings said, Richardson had made up her mind to leave.

"She just didn’t want to stay. I offered her the opportunity. I even tried to convince her to stay. She [Richardson] said she was going to hook up with her friends and she did not want stay."

--Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (62)

Anyone whose has ever been held at at Police Station for a period of time and then released.. Deputies dont care if someone is picking you... Let alone ask you to stay for Breakfast.. because its dark and cold, they DO NOT CARE!!! R U kidding me.. if that was the case where were her belongings??? Who had them??

Hey Sheriff, forensic files show how old bones speak. Why are you not soliciting their help in solving this homocide. Your boys are very bad and you might discover they know more that they are letting up.

Why was this not reported before you reported her as a street walker? Does anyone research a story anymore?

Yeah-like who's gonna stay in jail? They should have provided her transportation. With all our tax dollars that's the last they can do.

Bull the sheriff is trying to cover his tracks.

Cummings seems to remember a lot. Cummings might have something to do with the murder.

White folks lying again.If that lie was true about her being ask to stay was true.Then why didn't they say this at first,now as soon as she is found dead.Now she refuse the offer to stay LIAR!!!!

Forget about why was she released at wee hours of the morning. Let's focus on how she died. From my understanding she didn't have a purse, phone, nor car. It would be impossible to commit suicide. Someone had to kill her. THERE IS A MURDERER OUT THERE AND NO ONE IS LOOKING FOR HIM/HER. Who knows, there may be a serial killer working at Malibu station. Please don't rule them out. someone needs to look into investigating the police officers for murder.

Is it standard procedure to be released without your car, purse, phone, ID????
Sharon Cummings I believe you and your colleagues as far as I can spit!!!
Sharon think of how you've lied when your "karma" returns to you.... I'm sure you sleep peacefully... devils..

Right. And they had no reason to believe she was mentall ill, either. Any day now, the Sheriff will complete his analysis and discover it was perfectly fine to shhot Ruben Salazar with an RPG, and we can all go back to worrying about Lindsey Lohan again.

We need a new Sheriff.

@Bre: They should have provided transportation? Are you kidding me? Taxpayers are already crushed under the astounding costs of dealing with lame-o's criminal behavior.. then to provide transportation? I'm sorry for her death, but she made her choices and suffered the consequences.

Wouldn't have hurt to get her a taxi and pay for it to take her where she wanted to go. I don't think the taxpayers would mind.

Like the mother said, she was a grown woman, that smoked pot, and ran up a bill at a club. The parents just want some money.

This case was suspect from the jump and the Sheriffs Department is covering their ass...one or many deputies probably have blood on their hands because of this and I hope Baca loses his job~

So she was arrested for "acting strangely" but the jailers didn't think it was worthwhile to transport her to a hospital for a mental evaluation? I suppose that $89 meal was the real important reason for her arrest--so what if she might not be in her right mind. Shame, shame, shame on these lying jailers & their shoddy procedures. They can write all the reports they want trying to cover & exonerate themselves; but this was a case of negligence & I hope her family sues them up the wazoo. It will take a lawsuit to force this sheriff's dept. to do more than "soul searching" and institute some decent "procedures" to handle people showing signs of mental illness. These clowns would not have released a stray dog out into the cold, dark night in the middle of nowhere. This woman's blood is on their hands!

I do feel very strongly that The police Department is in the wrong. My sister did not show signs of Mental Illness until her late teens. Don't they let people make one call if they are arrested? The police are totally wrong here! They should not have arrested her at all. When her Grandmother offered to pay by credit card this should have been allowed. It is bull that they need a signature, they don't. Even so what risk were they taking by allowing it? Mitrice had a mental illness that sounds so much like my sisters. I would suspect foul play on the Police Department and if not then they were negligent PERIOD. My heart hurts for her parents. Shame on the Police Department for trying to cover this up, and to make the parents suffer more for their lack of judgement and their cruel, and cold attitude. I am just so upset that this happened.

Why didn't Sharon Cummings, say this at first? Now, she is just trying to cover her rear, and it is not going to happen.

Ohhhh...of COURSE she did...it was all her fault this happened right Malibu PD?? mmhhmmmm....no way to cover up this mistake....good for her family for pushing and pushing for this woman.

It's not likely that jailers offered for her to stay.

Stories are now coming in of other communities here where people are arrested and their cars impounded, and they are 'released' in the middle of the night.

This needs to be good and publicized .. Heads won't roll because it's govt, and not supposed to be accountable..

Very likely that someone assoc w the sheriff's ofc killed her .. Apparently an employee who left just after Richardson did..

Rules will probably change.. but I smell Another lawsuit for us to pay out..

I believe the sheriff's department. I also believe Ms. Richardson was not murdered. I believe she fell or otherwise injured herself while traversing dangerous terrain, and that she died as a result of her injuries. Ms. Richardson was an adult, albeit an adult experiencing a mental health crisis. People in crisis are oftentimes not the raving lunatics depicted on TV and in the movies. She could have had moments of clarity disrupted by moments of disorganized thinking. I believe that Ms. Richardson convinced herself and the authorities that she was lucid and responsible when in fact this was not the case. I'm also moved by Baca's admission that although his office may have acted properly and followed procedure, there might have been more that could have been done. I wish the restaurant that called the authorities would have the grace to admit the same. The restaurant did not allow Matrice's family member to provide a credit card number over the phone. Instead, they had Matrice arrested for failure to pay her bill. Yes, the restaurant followed "procedure," but there are exceptions to every rule. All of this could have been avoided if restaurant personnel had been more understanding and compassionate. Let this be a lesson to all of us who work in customer service.

To Matrice's family, I hope you can find some peace now that she has been found.

Yeah-like who's gonna stay in jail? They should have provided her transportation. With all our tax dollars that's the last they can do.

Posted by: bre | August 12, 2010 at 03:50 PM

Oh, they probably provided her transportation alright - bre. Now comes More of the coverup..

They were already so desparate they were insinuating she was a prostitute, etc.

You have a woman who is obviously mentally agitated. Her cell phone is locked inside her impounded car which she has no access to. And she is released into the night from an isolated police station in wooded area. I think the police force has some s'plainin' to do. And guess work: there is no excuse. Shameful!

Forget about why was she released at wee hours of the morning. Let's focus on how she died. From my understanding she didn't have a purse, phone, nor car. It would be impossible to commit suicide. Someone had to kill her. THERE IS A MURDERER OUT THERE AND NO ONE IS LOOKING FOR HIM/HER. Who knows, there may be a serial killer working at Malibu station. Please don't rule them out. someone needs to look into investigating the police officers for murder.

Posted by: Ms. Skeptical | August 12, 2010 at 03:59 PM

She left her purse and cellphone in her vehicle that the Sheriff impounded.

From what her mother says, it sounds as if someone in Sheriff dept offered her a ride.. Says her daughter was afraid of the dark, and would not have gone with anyone she didn't trust.

Jesus people! As tragic as this outcome is, LASD are not babysitters. By law, a peace officer and/or agency is only responsible for a persons safety "while they are in custody"...period. You don't give people who have broken the law and are arrested a free ride home when they are released. The only exception to this is if they feel the person is unable to take care of themselves. They clearly did not feel that was the case (a judgment call that you can question if you like, but you weren't there). If she made "several calls" from jail, why aren't we also holding those people responsible for not picking her up?

You cannot hold someone who has been released from jail against their will. She had a cell phone the ENTIRE time! She refused to call her family for help at the restaurant. She refused to call them to pick her up at the police station after she was discharged. Everyone is forgetting that this young adult lady had a mental problem and had been a drug user before. She may have been off her meds or something triggered her on this journey. It is all VERY SAD. I don't think anyone is to blame. Law enforcement cannot scrutinize every individual who walks thru the station doors. I doubt she was under any "influence" when she left the station since she had several hours pass between the restaurant incident and her time of release. Hopefully an autopsy will be able to tell, but none of that will bring her back. It's just a sad accident and let's us all know that we have to take special care and have extra awareness of family/friends who may need guideance.

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