There's an update to the case of Mitrice Richardson, the 25-year-old lesbian Los Angeles woman who disappeared ten months ago. The former beauty queen has been missing since she was released from a Malibu sheriff's station in the early morning of September 17, 2009. This week Richardson's mother has filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County and Sheriff's Department officials.
Citing video footage of Richardson in a holding cell that shows her behaving in an infantile manner, Latice Sutton blamed the Sheriff's Department for failing to give her daughter a medical or psychiatric evaluation. Instead, Sutton said authorities released Richardson into the remote Calabasas area without her car, which had been impounded, cellphone or purse. Her disappearance prompted several massive searches and an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Police investigators later concluded that she was probably suffering from a severe form of bipolar disorder.
Staff at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu, where she was arrested for not paying her bill, said she was acting "crazy." [Attorney Leo] Terrell said the lawsuit was also alleging unlawful arrest. 'There was an offer to pay the bill. Mitrice Richardson should not have been arrested,' he said. Richardson's great-grandmother had offered to give restaurant staffers a credit card number over the phone but she was told that she would have to also fax a signature. Although the suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, both Sutton and Terrell said the primary reason for filing it is to give them the right to demand information about the night Richardson was arrested.
According to the lawsuit, Richardson's breakdown was "blatantly evident to the deputies and employees of the Lost Hills Malibu Sheriff Station, yet no one attempted to call for a medical or psychiatric evaluation or attempted to hold Ms. Richardson for an extended period of time until it was evident she had a safe place to go upon release."
In May, Rep. Maxine Waters asked the Justice Department to investigate the disappearance. That was Waters' second request for federal intervention. Waters' original letter to the FBI can be found HERE.
Los Angeles-based Jasmyne Cannick has extensively covered Richardson's disappearance and asks the very obvious question: What if Mitrice Richardson were white and from an affluent family or community? "Would unmanned drones have been sent in to look her right away instead of seven months later? Would Mitrice’s congressional representative have demanded the FBI get involved in finding her? Probably not."
Waters and Latice Sutton appeared on HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" recently to discuss the case. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP ...