United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters has asked the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson, who vanished last September after leaving the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Malibu/Agoura Hills substation.
Her disappearance followed an arrest for allegedly failing to pay an $89.21 bill at a local restaurant, and for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Richardson, then 24-years-old, was subsequently released from the substation in the 27000 block of Agoura Road at about 1:25 a.m., without transportation or money.
Congresswoman Waters, recently requested that the FBI conduct an investigation, because she feels efforts by the Sheriff’s Department are too slow. However, the FBI does not investigate missing persons over the age of 18, says FBI director Robert Muller. But this hasn’t stopped Waters, who alternatively contacted the Department of Justice in a letter, requesting their full cooperation.
“Based on reports I have read, there are questions as to whether the Malibu/Agoura Hills Sheriff’s Station acted properly in releasing this young woman during the pre-dawn hours without money or transportation, all while she was suffering from what the Los Angeles Police Department’s doctors have concluded to be bipolar disorder,” Waters writes. “I believe that the circumstances surrounding her disappearance warrant a thorough, federal investigation.”
Waters also challenges the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s assertion that deputies were not made aware of Richardson’s mental illness at the scene. Instead, she says that restaurant personnel warned deputies about Richardson’s bizarre behavior, and there are reportedly witnesses who attested to at least one deputy acknowledging that Richardson might have been under the influence.
Rhonda Hampton, a clinical psychologist who knew Richardson, previously appeared with Latrice Sutton, Mitrice’s mother, on KFI radio as a guest on the “John and Ken Show” and offered her professional evaluation of the young woman’s mental health.
“. . . I know Richardson because she completed her last year of undergraduate work with me at Fullerton,” Hampton said. “In my estimation, I believe she had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Mitrice and I had a conversation about that.”
Congresswoman Waters insists that Richardson’s civil rights were violated the night of her arrest, because authorities neglected to ensure her safety, after she was released from custody. “People with disabilities, including mental disabilities, are a protected class in this country,” the Congresswoman says in her letter to the DOJ. “It appears the Malibu/Agoura Hill’s Sheriff’s Department failed to follow its own policies, which state that individuals with mental disabilities are to be released into the care of family, friends, or medical professionals. I believe that the Justice Department is the best equipped agency to handle this investigation, and I will continue to work with the appropriate officials to help the family of Matrice Richardson.”
According to a spokesperson for Congresswoman Waters, the DOJ has not yet responded to her request. “We expect to hear something by the end of this week,” he added.