Six Years Later Mitrice Richardson’s Death is Still An Unsolved Mystery

We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).

Before Black Lives Matter became a movement, before there was daily scrutiny of the police on the evening news and before videos showcasing police brutality on African-Americans came a dime a dozen–her life mattered.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson and five years since her decomposing naked corpse was found in a Malibu ravine.

By now you should know the story.

24-year-old Mitrice Richardson found herself at the swanky Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu where they claim she was acting bizarre and unable to pay her $89.51 bill. Mitrice was allowed to phone her great grandmother (using Geoffrey’s phone), who was willing to pay the bill over the phone, but Geoffrey’s manager declined the payment. The sheriff’s are called and a citizen’s arrest is performed.

Now keep in mind that Geoffrey’s is the same restaurant where actor Mel Gibson was taken in 2006 after his drunk driving arrest and later given a ride to his car by deputies. But Mitrice had her car impounded and Deputies Armando Loureiro and Frank Browe of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills Department took her into custody.

According to the sheriff’s own paperwork, a report was taken at 9:50 p.m. (or 2150 hours).  But on the same report, it showed that the initial call into dispatch regarding Mitrice was made at 9:55 p.m. (or 2155 hours).

According to the arresting officer, Deputy Frank Brower, a field sobriety test was given to Mitrice that indicated she was not intoxicated.

Officially, Mitrice was taken into custody for defrauding an innkeeper and possession of marijuana.

Mitrice’s mother Latice Sutton phoned the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department several times out of concern for her daughter. She didn’t want Mitrice released in the dark in an “unfamiliar” place and was reassured by the sheriff’s that Mitrice would phone her when she arrived at the station, as she was still en route.

According to news reports, the deputy on the phone assured Latice that Mitrice would be safe at the station. “I think the only way I will come and get her tonight is if you guys are going to release her tonight,” Latice said. “She definitely…she’s not from that area, and I would hate to wake up to a morning report, ‘Girl lost somewhere with her head chopped off.’ ”

The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department released Mitrice on September 17 a little after midnight.

Initial inquires about why Mitrice Richardson was let go included that the Malibu/Lost Hills jail was overcrowded, but it was later proven that it was nowhere near capacity.  Then the story changed to “we let her go because we had no reason to keep her” or in the words of the jailer, “we are not a babysitting service.”

One deputy suggested that she caught the bus.  At the time, the closest bus line servicing Agoura Hills, Malibu, Woodland Hills and Thousands Oaks was Metro’s 161 line.  It unfortunately stopped running eastbound after 8:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and westbound at 7:34 p.m.

Mitrice was released without her car, cell phone or any money.

A lot happened between September 17 and August 9 when Mitrice’s naked body was found in a ravine less than eight miles from the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station and within two miles of the location where she was last seen.

Her character was assassinated after it was reported she was a dancer and a lesbian.

The Sheriff’s Department’s Captain Thomas Martin told Mitrice’s family that no jail cell video existed of their daughter. We determined that to be a lie when on January 6, 2010, Latice, Mitrice’s aunt Lauren and two friends sat down with Martin and then Sheriff Lee Baca at LASD headquarters in Monterey Park and Martin said that there was a video and that it was in his desk drawer.

For his troubles and in typical LASD fashion, Martin, a 34-year LASD veteran, was promoted to commander and transferred to Monterey Park.

One of my favorite incidents involved Mitrice’s father Michael Richardson reaching out to then Malibu Mayor Andy Stern regarding his missing daughter.

The Mayor tells Mr. Richardson that he’s on his way to a meeting and doesn’t have time to stop and speak with him.  Mr. Richardson then calls the Mayor’s real estate business’s cell phone posing as a Black football star interested in one of the Mayor’s million dollar homes for sale.  The Mayor offers to cancel his previously scheduled meeting and meet him right away at the property for a showing.  When the Mayor realizes that he’s speaking to Mr. Richardson, who he just said he didn’t have time for, the Mayor is embarrassed.  Shortly after, in record history, the City of Malibu authorizes a $15,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Mitrice Richardson, all spearheaded by Mayor Andy Stern. Imagine that.

When Mitrice was finally found there was no shortage of theories from the Sheriff’s Department on what happened to her.

Let’s see, there was the theory that Yogi and Boo Boo managed to undress Mitrice, kill her in the wild and then place her clothes 5 feet away from her body.

There was the theory that the water from the ravine magically undressed Mitrice and placed her clothing 5 feet from her body.

There was the suicide theory.

But the one theory the Sheriff’s Department was always quick to disavow was any belief that one of their deputies was directly involved with Mitrice’s death.

I, like many others do not believe that Mitrice Richardson undressed herself and took her own life.

I believe that it was murder, plain and simple.

Do I think that the Sheriff’s Department had anything to do with her death? Absolutely.

Whether directly or indirectly, it was the Sheriff’s Department that let Mitrice Richardson out in the middle of night never to be seen alive again. So yes, they are to blame.

Then there’s that little shady business involving the deputy seen on video exiting the station about two minutes after Mitrice which to this day the LASD refuses to comment about. He’s since been transferred from the Malibu/Lost Hills Station to parts unknown.

And remember, this is the same Sheriff’s Department that was criticized by the Los Angeles County Coroner after deputies removed the remains of Mitrice from the ravine without permission. This after detectives were concerned that it was getting dark and that animals might destroy what was left of Mitrice.

In 2015, the death of Mitrice Richardson is still an unsolved mystery.

According to Dr. Ronda Hampton, a close friend of the Mitrce’s family, Michael Rossen is now the officer in charge of the Mitrice Richardson case. According to Hampton, Rossen says it is classified as an “open death investigation,” that is now “lead or clue driven … as clues come in, they will investigate them.”

Back here on planet Earth, the Mitrice Richardson case has gone from cold to freezing as the LASD has taken no real interest in finding out what happened to Mitrice.

Where are Detectives Olivia Benson, John Munch, Elliot Stabler and Odafin Tutuola when you really need them?

Since Mitrice’s death, Sheriff Lee Baca has retired and seemingly escaped any culpability. Others involved in Mitrice’s disappearance have also retired or have been promoted and transferred out of the Malibu/Lost Hills Station.

But let me remind you—there is no statute of limitations on murder. I’ll add to that given the recent scandals coming out of the LASD—it’s not that hard to believe that someone in that Department might have had something to do with Mitrice’s death.

Finally, while a lot of attention has been given to the Los Angeles Police Department for their many many deadly shenanigans—and rightfully so—the LASD doesn’t get a pass.

As angry as folks are about Ezell Ford, Clinton Alford, Omar Abrego, Brother Africa, Brendon Glenn and all of the other beatings and LAPD officer-involved-shootings—they need to also be concerned with the LASD and Mitrice Richardson.

Her life mattered back then and it still matters today.

Say her name: Mitrice Richardson.


The Court of Public Opinion

  • drronda1

    Six years later much has been exposed about police corruption and brutality in general and with the LASD in particular. While all officers are not “bad apples”, those who are remain silent to crimes perpetrated by fellow officers are guilty of passive corruption when they choose not to speak up in defense of victims of police brutality and malfeasance. #justiceformitricerichardson

  • discarted

    Where are the “good” cops in this city and LASD? Why is not one cop willing to speak out and tell the truth regarding the murder of Mitrice Richardson.

    What if she were your sister?

    I would like to know the history of the sheriff who left immediately after Mitrice? What kind of complaints does he have against him? Oh, we can know that because of the Police Bill of Rights.

    Who can account for his whereabouts that night? Does his patrol unit have GPS?

    Why the silence from LASD?

    Police in this country want everyone to trust them and shed a tear anytime one of them is killed on the job. However, that’s never gonna happen until police in this city turn over the sheriff(s) who murdered Mitrice.

    Cops in this country need to realize that communities want cops who are willing to blow the whistle and arrest criminal cops. So start living up to our expectations.

  • It is called “culture” and it starts at the top. And works it’s way down to the bottom. Everything from the LASD story is suspect. Why arrest her when a CC payment was offered and would have ended the matter right then and there? What LE agency anywhere n America today makes an IN CUSTODY arrest over a petty $89 theft charge, instead of a simple cite and release??? None of it adds up at all….and this is what fosters conflict and lack f trust with LE today.

  • cutty sark

    1.Mitrice Richardson never attempted to leave Geoffrey’s restaurant without paying her bill.
    2.deputy Frank Brauer, in his Supplemental Arrest Report, detailed committing an offense of “battery under the color of authority” upon the body of Mitrice Richardson.
    3.the arresting deputies were initially under a presumption that a 90 year old granny in Watts was the only responsible family Mitrice had. Under that presumption they arrested her and transported her to the station to hold in custody.
    4. when Mitrice mother contacted the station inquiring about her daughter, everything changed. Now the Sheriff was desperate to get rid of Mitrice before her mother could arrive to get her.
    5.One person at the Sheriff station was assigned to monitor the phone for calls from Lattice Sutton, then sweet talk and lie to her in order to delay her from coming to the station.
    6.The booking photo of Mitrice Richardson appears to show the initial appearance of a bruised eye or “black eye” indicating she had taken a blow to that area.
    7. The Sheriff shrunk the amount of time they spent with Mitrice Richardson by 60 – 75 minutes.
    Initial reports said she was released around 1:20a.m – 1:35a.m.
    Months later when her remains were found, the Sheriff listed her time of release as “shortly after midnight.”
    8.The Sheriff Dept. cannot properly account for or verify exactly what time the patrol car transporting Mitrice left from Geoffrey’s Malibu and what time it arrived at the Station in Agoura Hills
    9. The LASD expended public funds to conduct search operations for Mitrice and to conduct an investigation by Sheriff detectives. True investigations begin where the missing or deceased was last seen and with whom they were last seen. In the case of Mitrice Richardson, those areas of investigation were kept completely off limits.
    10. The LAPD also expended public funds for 2 full-time detectives to investigate the missing person case of Mitrice. Those detectives also kept the last place and last people seen with her as “off limits”.
    11. If it can be shown that Sheriff Lee Baca and LAPD Chief Beck knew that Mitrice Richardson was no longer alive, then the money spent for needless searches and bogus investigations was a misuse of public funds.
    12 There is no statute of limitations for homicide in California
    And no statute of limitations for prosecution of “misuse of public funds”.

  • LASD Insider

    Maybe this will help Jasmine.

    Deputies Loureiro and McKay were the officers called out to the restaurant and Frank Brower was not. He “assigned himself.”

    Deputy Armstrong who was not at the restaurant is said to have known that Mitrice was African-American as evident by the fact that he referred to her as a “sister” in a MDT communication between he and another officer.

    The Deputy who left behind Mitrice, and I know you know his name, was last known to be assigned to Lennox and is coaching young kids in football. Google it.

    Commander Martin is now a law enforcement consultant I believe.

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