caption="A member of Congress has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson, who has been missing since September 17." width=292 height=320]
A member of Congress has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances surrounding last year’s disappearance of a California woman.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a democrat from California, said in a letter she is “deeply concerned” about the decision by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to release Mitrice Richardson from custody following her arrest on September 16, 2009.
Richardson was accused of not paying for her $89 dinner at a Malibu restaurant. Sheriff’s deputies charged Richardson with defrauding an innkeeper and for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
At the restaurant, witnesses said Richardson was exhibiting strange behavior. Her family said the college graduate suffers from mental health issues.
Richardson was booked at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Malibu/Lost Hills station and discharged at approximately 1am on the morning of September 17, authorities said.
She walked out of the station and was never seen or heard from again.
In her letter to the Department of Justice, Rep. Waters wrote that she is “troubled by reports that question whether the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station acted properly in releasing Mitrice Richardson during the predawn 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,” Rep. Waters said.
Richardson's family has long suspected that the sheriff’s department may have been involved in her disappearance.
In response, the sheriff’s department told CNN it welcomed Rep. Waters’ request for a federal investigation.
“The sheriff has long said that we have no objection to anybody looking at it,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Steve Whitmore. “This has been looked at by the county office of independent review, internal affairs…transparency is more than a buzz word to him (the sheriff).
Whitmore also said sheriff’s deputies had to let Richardson go on the night of September 17. If not, he said her civil rights could have been violated. “When they’re free to go, they are free to go,” he told CNN.
“The only focus we have is to find her. That is the only focus we have.”
Extensive searches for Richardson have been conducted since she vanished. The next search is scheduled for June 5 and 6.
Mitrice Richardson turned 25 on April 30.
For more information, visit FindMitrice.info.
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