Connecticut Detectives Suspended Over Handling Of Black Women's Deaths

Two Bridgeport police detectives were placed on leave for what the mayor called “unacceptable” handling of the cases of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls.
Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, speaks during a protest rally in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Jan. 23.
Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, speaks during a protest rally in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Jan. 23.
via Associated Press

Two Connecticut detectives have been suspended during an investigation into the handling of the cases of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls — two Black women found dead last month.

Detectives Kevin Cronin and Angel Llanos were placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim released Sunday. They are the subjects of internal affairs investigations for “lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy” in the handling of the deaths. Their supervising officer retired from the department on Friday, per the city’s statement.

“I am extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department and find actions taken up to this point unacceptable,” the mayor said, expressing condolences to the families of the two women and saying it was an “unacceptable failure” that policies were not followed in regard to officer sensitivity for the death of a family member.

Smith-Fields, a 23-year-old Black woman, was found dead at her Bridgeport apartment on Dec. 12, 2021, after a date with a white man whom she’d met on the dating app Bumble. Her family was not contacted by police about her death but found out from her landlord, reported NBC News.

Last week, her death was ruled an accidental overdose, but an investigation is ongoing. Relatives have called the probe “racially insensitive,” saying that police weren’t taking the investigation seriously and alleging that they failed to collect evidence from her place for weeks after she died.

Rawls, 53, was found dead in another Bridgeport residence on the same day. Her family said police never notified them about her death and have not taken her case seriously, reported Yahoo News.

“To the families, friends and all who care about the human decency that should be shown in these situations … by members of the Bridgeport Police Department, I am very sorry,” the mayor said.

Both deaths are under active investigation and were reassigned to other members of the Bridgeport Police Department, the mayor’s office said.

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