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Bridgeport officers involved in the death investigation of two Black women placed on leave

Lauren-Smith Fields
Courtesy The Crosland Law Group,
Lauren-Smith Fields

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is placing two police officers, who were involved in the death investigations of two Black women, on administrative leave. The internal affairs department is currently looking into the conduct of the officers.

The family of Lauren Smith-Fields has accused Bridgeport police of a lack of responsiveness. Smith-Fields’ family says police never notified them of her death and haven’t explained why a man who called authorities to report finding her unresponsive is not a suspect. An attorney representing the family has issued notice of claim, and plans to sue Bridgeport Police Department, saying the department was racially-insensitive towards the family in their handling of Smith-Fields death. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner’s office says Smith-Fields death was caused by drugs and alcohol.

A second woman’s family has come forward to question the police response in the death of 53-year old Brenda Lee Rawls. Rawls’ family told NBC News that she was found dead at a Bridgeport home on the same day as Lauren Smith-Fields. The deaths are unrelated.

In a statement posted to Bridgeport’s website and the mayor’s Facebook page, Mayor Joe Ganim said the officers showed a lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy. He announced the two detectives had been placed on administrative leave.

The supervising officer who was in charge of overseeing these cases has retired from the department this past Friday.

Walter Smith Randolph is Connecticut Public’s Investigative Editor. In 2021, Walter launched The Accountability Project, CT Public’s investigative reporting initiative. Since then, the team’s reporting has led to policy changes across the state. Additionally, The Accountability Project’s work has been honored with a National Edward R. Murrow award from RTDNA, two regional Murrow awards, a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, three regional EMMY nominations and a dozen CT SPJ awards.
Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.

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