Deputies Acted 'Reasonably and Appropriately' in Releasing Richardson, Report Says

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department followed policy in releasing the young woman from its custody, the Office of Independent Review finds.

A 58-page report released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) Thursday morning found that deputies at the Malibu/Lost Hills Station had acted "reasonably and appropriately" in arresting and later releasing Mitrice Richardson.

The 25-year-old Richardson went missing from the area in September. Her skeletal remains were discovered Monday in Malibu Canyon.

The report was prepared by the Office of Independent Review (OIR), a civilian group that oversees the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

The report answers some of the allegations made against Malibu/Lost Hills deputies in a July 27 lawsuit filed by Richardson's father, Michael Richardson. The lawsuit alleges that Los Angeles County and individual deputies acted irresponsibly in releasing Richardson after she showed signs of mental health problems, without first calling a doctor to conduct an evaluation, and notifying her family that she was being released.

OIR's report says, during the booking process, Richardson "had access to a telephone in the booking area, and appeared on a few occasions to use the telephone." During her interview she denied having any mental health disorder or condition, and when a criminal history check revealed that she had no outstanding wants or warrants, she was released from custody.

According to the report, before her release the station jailer "twice offered her the option to remain voluntarily at the jail until the arrival of daylight hours or her transportation." She declined both offers and stated her intent to leave the jail and meet friends.

The report also states that when Richardson was being arrested at Geoffrey's restaurant where she had failed to pay her bill, her relatives—mother Latice Sutton and great grandmother Mildred Harris—were informed, but neither were able to help pay the dinner bill immediately, or travel to Malibu to pick Richardson up.

Moreover, neither Harris nor Sutton told the deputies at the time of the arrest that Richardson was suffering from depression, the report said.

When LASD deputies searched Richardson's car at Geoffrey's, they did not find a cell phone in it. The car was in a cluttered state, according to the report, and the deputies did not have time to conduct a thorough search to possibly locate a cell phone.

The report said Richardson's lack of access to a cell phone could not be discussed because the facts surrounding it are unclear.

When Richardson was taken to the sheriff's station, Sutton called twice, once before her release, and once after.

Sutton told the deputies, the report said, that she couldn't decide whether to let Richardson spend the night in jail so she could learn a lesson from her behavior. But she said she would come to pick her up if the deputies were going to release her that night.

The report states that the LASD's decision to release Richardson during the early hours of the day was within department policy.

Moreover, though employees at Geoffrey's had reported some concerns about her behavior, she had "passed the field sobriety test and appeared sober, alert and stable."

The report dismissed claims by the Richardson family that the LASD deputies had shown little interest in finding the young woman.

The report said that hours after her release from custody and continuing for several months, the department arranged for Malibu/Lost Hills Station personnel and Los Angeles Police Department missing persons detective and later homicide investigators to work in a collaborative manner to search for her.

"It [the department] committed substantial resources in excess of $350,000 to her search," the report read.


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