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Mitrice Richardson: What lessons can be learned?

The Mitrice Richardson case sparked outrage from the start. Critics asked: How could deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department be so cruel, so callous or so clueless as to allow a young woman to set off on her own in an isolated area in the middle of the night?


The report resulting from a months-long investigation by the sheriff's watchdog, the Office of Independent Review, offers little to quiet the clamor.

"The decision to take Ms. Richardson into custody and transport her to the station was the only prudent option," the report concluded. And the decision to release her from custody a few hours later — with no car, no money and no cellphone — "comported with legal and policy mandates."

It answers some questions but it raises another: Where do you begin when you try to finger a villain in a case where no one technically did anything wrong, but everything that could go wrong did?

Read Sandy Banks' column about Mitrice Richardson here. In the video above, The Times' Carla Hall discusses what's next in the Richardson case.

What do you think? Share your views below.

Comments () | Archives (29)

Pay your bar tab. that's the lesson, Period!

The young woman's family should also feel very responsible for the tragic outcome. They should have paid more attention to her actions and reactions, made sure she wasn't left alone, made sure she got medical attention, etc. It's very easy to blame others for what wasn't done at home.

Actually, someone did "technically" do something wrong and that person was Matrice Richardson. If she had not stolen a meal from Geoffrey's, none of the events that followed, including her death in whatever matter, would have occurred. Too many journalists seem to be forgetting that simple and key fact. She was not arrested because she was doing nothing. She was arrested for the theft of service and goods. Her own actions are the main fault and cause in the tragedy that ensued.

That said, no woman should ever be released from custody into the middle of nowhere or the middle of the city in the middle of the night with literally no means to protect herself by way of car, ID, cell phone, money, etc., because those items were impounded by our law enforcement agencies. That is the epitome of cruel and unusual punishment. A lot of people have blood on their hands from this event. Every single person involved in this tragic event knows it, too.

Mitrice Richardson was a grown woman. She could have called someone to pick her up but chose not to. Had the sheriff's department not "allowed a young woman to set off on her own," it would have been an illegal detention and Mr. Richardson would be suing for that instead. Mitrice's death is a tragedy, but Mr. Richardson is merely looking for a payout.

The lesson to be learned here is to keep those arrested in jail overnight - regardless - until it's daytime and they are released with supervised arrangements. There is NO EXCUSE for letting a woman wonder alone into the darkness without her purse and/or cellphone - and even $10 from the drug dealer seizure petty cash for such an event. Yes, she stole a meal and got arrested, but her blood is ONLY on four hands - the police and her killer they put her in the hands of.

dont go to a restaurant you cannot afford

Blame goes directly to the parents who knew something was wrong with her. They let her go out on her own, not take her medications and now, they want to blame the police for letting her go in the middle of the night. Those guys did not know that she was not all there. Richardson could have called the parents from the station but chose to walk out and jump off that ravine. Now all they want is a huge payout that will most likely happen. Maybe they should also go to jail for neglect.

Blame goes directly to the parents who knew something was wrong with her. They let her go out on her own, not take her medications and now, they want to blame the police for letting her go in the middle of the night. Those guys did not know that she was not all there. Richardson could have called the parents from the station but chose to walk out and jump off that ravine. Now all they want is a huge payout that will most likely happen. Maybe they should also go to jail for neglect.

It's not unusal or unlikely for the sheriff's department to harm people after releasing them, especially African Americans. I think that department should be investigated first and foremost.

When a person is released from the PENITENTIARY (committed murder, rape, robbery, etc) they are provided with enough money for transporation to wherever it is they need to go & ALL PROPERTY that was in thier possession at the time of arrest is returned to them. They are also given a PHONE CALL to let someone know their release date/expected time of arrival. When I worked in PAROLE we would drive up to 12 hours to retrieve someone from a priosn and transport them to our local office. When people are released from county jail they are given a phone call & notify someone that they are being released & ALL PROPERTY that was in their possession is returned to them.

The cell phone was not evidence, the purse was not evidence nor was the car which should've never been impounded because it was not a factor in the case. At the time of release Ms. Richardson should've had ALL property returned to her just as those who have committed more heinous crimes. Due to the location of the jail NO ONE (male/female) should be released into the wild like an abandoned animal. Public safety for ALL is the job of law enforcement despite being charged with a crime or not. Funny how we care more about the human rights/compassion for priosners Gitmo priosners who want to kill us all, but don't think native priosoners are warranted the same basic human rights.

This is an unfortunate situation in which law enforcement should take a cloer look at how they handle the release of prisoners. If we won't release rapist, murders, robbers in the middle of nowhere without a way to get home, why would we do it to anyone else?

As far as Matrice's family is concerned no blame should be placed on them. DAILY people are allowed a degree of independence that are on medication/have a low level of mental impairment. Homes for these kind of people allow them out based on their proven ability to handle themselves & families have the discretion to make the same judgement.

Law Enforcers need to be reminded that they are working for the interest of the community and not the corporation...

For those that claim the family or Matrice should have been more cautious, let's not have a case of American amnesia and forget that those among us that have achieved a higher level of living and commit an error in judgement, however, little or big it might be. They are tried and judge as first class citizens. And the rest of us as second/third class citizens...

I'm sickened by the lack of compassion displayed in these comments. You guys sound like sociopaths. A woman was likely murdered shortly after being released from police custody and all you can think about is whether she paid her bar tab or could afford dine at Jeffreys. Pathetic excuses for human beings Richardson was clearly the victim of foul play; and the police SHOULD be held accountable for releasing her without her wallet, id, and car alone in an isolated area at night. The procedure should be that police require someone to pick her up, call a cab, or they take her home. The police acted with callous disregard for human life, regardless of whether their protocol specifically spells out what to do in this case. Clearly they should not endanger a person's life, and they did so by releasing her in a deserted isolated canyon at night alone without a car, id and wallet. In no way is this acceptable or reasonable behavior. Common sense should be implied in the police's protocol.

Actually, it may have been lucky that she was arrested...Otherwise, she may have flipped into bipolar mode while driving her car and taken out a bunch of innocents...who knows...personally, I'm surprised that bipolars are allowed to maintain a Driver's License...That disorder should be treated like epilepsy...

The moral to this story is...If you have some bizarre medical condition where you can't articulate your strange behavior, you should have some type if written instructions on a dog tag or bracelet...They're going to still arrest you for flaking on the meal, but the medical condition may provide officers with more authority to keep you detained after the fact...Maybe treated like a juvenile where they would be required to release you to a competent party...

I didnt realize this comments could be posted by professional idiots, Mitrice Richardson lived with her grandmother.
Her grandmother offered to pay Geoffry's tab by credit card but the Manager declined.
Lattice Sutton asked when she could pick up her daughter, but the Lost Hills operator lied about the hour Mitrice was to be released. http://www.findmitrice.info/police-recordings
Find Lattice Sutton informed the officers her daughter was unfamilar with Malabu Canyon, but they saw fit to let a young woman exit the station with no phone, money, or means of transport.
Sorry but Mitrice isnt a career offender, a scam artist or a prostitute, but she was bi-polar.
And for amounts to only mistomeaner offense she suffered the ultiment pain of death, and all you sadistic-degenerate people can do is nod in approval of the LASO.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Nothing is anyone's fault anymore. . .except those with deepest pockets. Yes, cops probably could have done better. . .but wouldn't have had to if this woman's family had been more interested in her welfare than an after-the-fact payday. Enough blame to go around on all sides--a wash.

I have to say that a year and a half ago at 11PM my 18 year old daughter was in the same situation as Matrice was at the Lost Hills station. Fortunately for our case, we are from Agoura and my daughter knows the area so she did go to the lobby and call me, she waited on the outside steps for me to pick her up. The law needs to change, no woman/man should ever be released in the dark. Ventura county already has that law in effect. My heart goes out to the Richardson family....

Don't be a minority in an enclave of rich d******bags?

If it were my daughter, I would never stop harassing the police at that station for the rest of my life. There is no excuse at all for what happened to her, and the station should be investigated thoroughly. All video evidence and witnesses should be questioned. Nobody really knows what happened to this woman. If she was still so drunk she got completely turned around on her way home, then somebody knew that released her. It is not brain surgery. You never release someone with nothing in the middle of the night. They could have easily given her a ride home or to an area where the buses still do run. Was she alone at this restaurant? Did she go there often? Did she make the police angry by her attitude? All this must be investigated.

although, it is not the polices responsibility to make sure a person gets home after committing a criminal act, the deputy releasing richardson could have used common compassion and said to him or herself, "i wouldn't feel right letting this girl go off into the canyons not in a full state of mind." how hard would it have been to allow her to call her mother or father to come get her.

i work in with the public, and it is true, all stories and situations all become the same. you can become desensitized to all of it. but at the end of the night, you are still human. mitrice could have been anyone of our sisters, aunt, or mother.

shame on the deputy. you do not need to be trained to see someone is delusional. seriously.

All of you people who think she shouldn't have been released, contact your legislators and have the law changed...Give law enforcement the authority to detain people because it's dark out...Then the problem will be solved next time...Because next time is next week or next month...people have continued to be arrested and released at night at all police stations, even after this incident...

All of you people are inhuman sadistic to believe a woman should die for a minor offense and post approvals,
hopelly someday you wont be needing anyone to show you human compassion.

yeah right if the LASO/LASD had been doing thier jobs, they would have found Mitrice within the first 48 hours when residents reported seeing her.
Instead they ignored Lattice Sutton, ignored residential reports & pushed it off on the LAPD and allowed her to die on thier doorstep.
The tape provided by the LASD themselves convicts them of negligence and wrongful death case closed.

They did it to me. And I wasn't even arrested.
I just wanted a safe place to sit until the sun came up.
If they get sued for 1 billion dollars it will be too little.

Wow! What is wrong with some of the commentators here? You people disgusts me with your lack of empathy, compassion, and understanding of mental illness. Her death was totally tragic. And I'm sure she would've paid for her own bill at the restaurant if she was in the right state of mind at that time. Unfortunately, she was not. And that isn't her fault. Mental illness is a very difficult thing to cope with. It is not possible for someone to be aware enough to gain control over their own behavior when the attack hits. In our society, we do not educate people enough about mental illness, and people are not capable of recognizing the symptoms, especially when it's subtle.....

I find the snide remarks here implying that Ms. Richardson was some kind of crook, intent on not paying her bill, particularly offensive. The richest of us could lose that wallet or simply forget it or its credit cards at home--in fact, I'd bet everyone over age 12 has had a similar experience.

So why did the restaurant not make other arrangements for payment instead of calling the sheriff? Why did the sheriffs impound her car? Why did they take her purse and cellphone? If such treatment over an unpaid bill has become standard procedure everyone should be frightened.

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