Baca has served 15 years as sheriff and was up for re-election later this year. Baca's department is facing at least two two federal investigations related to police brutality, corruption, prison overcrowding ... and of course, numerous charges of racial profiling and harassment.
This decision to retire comes weeks after Andre Birotte Jr., the U.S. Attorney for California's Central District, announced charges against 18 current and former deputies assigned to the Los Angeles County jails in connection with "a wide scope of illegal conduct" including allegations of unjustified beating of inmates, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation.
Separately, the U.S. Justice Department found that deputies patrolling the Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County repeatedly harassed and intimidated Blacks and Latinos including using racial profiling and excessive force. The Los Angeles Times reported last month that Baca's Sheriff's Department hired dozens of officers even though investigators found they had committed serious misconduct both on and off the job.
Baca and his department faced mounting criticism after the disappearance of 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson in September 2009. Richardson—who was a lesbian—vanished upon release from a sheriff's jail at 1230AM without a ride, purse, money or mobile phone. Richardson's partial skeletal remains were discovered in August 2010 in a Malibu ravine nearly one year after she vanished upon release from jail.
The California State-Fullerton student had been arrested for not paying her $89 tab at a Malibu-area restaurant. Richardson's grandmother offered to pay the bill by credit card over the phone, but the restaurant refused. It was later revealed that Richardson was troubled and bi-polar. Friends and family suspect Richardson was sexually assaulted and killed.
Richardson's remains were exhumed in late 2010 and sent to FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia for examination. The results have not been released to the public. The sheriff's department settled several wrongful death lawsuits from the family for a reported $900,000 in August 2011.
Watch video of Baca's announcement AFTER THE JUMP ...