Bridgeport Officer in Lauren Smith-Fields Case Placed on Administrative Leave Amid Investigation
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced an internal investigation into the handling of the investigation of Lauren Smith-Fields' death last week.
After outcry by the family of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields and major media attention, a Connecticut police officer has been placed on administrative leave while being investigated for his actions following Smith-Fields’ death. Smith-Fields’ family claims they weren’t notified that she was found dead in December, CBS News reported.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced an internal investigation last week into the department's interactions with Smith-Fields’ family after her death.
"I want you to know that I am extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department and find actions taken up to this point unacceptable," Ganim said in a statement. "After reviewing the matters even more closely and in the absence of the Police Chief, I have directed Deputy Chief Baraja to immediately put on administrative leave the two officers who are the subject of a Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) Investigation and disciplinary action for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy in the handling of these two matters."
In December, Smith-Fields was found dead at her home following a Bumble date with a man. The pair had been sleeping and he awoke to find her bleeding from her nostril and called for help.
The police did not notify Smith-Fields' family of her death, their attorney said. Relatives found out after going to her apartment when she failed to answer calls and texts, only to find a note from the landlord on her front door, the lawyer said.
The landlord told them Smith-Fields had died and police had been to the home, according to the family's lawyer.
Attorney Darnell Crosland said the family was rebuffed and treated rudely when they contacted investigators. One officer told them to stop calling him, Crosland said.
"When Black women go missing, or something happens, nothing gets done," he said.
The family has accused the department of being "racially insensitive."
"The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member," Ganim said Sunday. "It is an unacceptable failure if policies were not followed. To the families, friends and all who care about the human decency that should be shown in these situations, in this case by members of the Bridgeport Police Department, I am very sorry."
An attorney for the family said the investigation and leave is a “step in the right direction,” CBS News reported.
Smith-Fields’ death was ruled an accident last week and the medical examiner said she died of "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol.”
Another officer was suspended after reportedly failing to inform the family of Brenda Rawls, a 53-year-old Black woman, that she had died around the same time as Smith-Fields.
"Nobody ever notified us that she died," Rawls' sister told NBC News. "We had to do our own investigation and find out where she was."
Another officer who was "in charge of overseeing these matters" also resigned last week, Ganim said.
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