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 stated 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. After the pair fell asleep, he awoke to find Smith-Fields bleeding from her nostril. He called for help.
The police did not notify Smith-Fields’ family of her death, their attorney said. According to the lawyer, relatives found out about Smith-Fields’ death after they went to her apartment and discovered a note on her front door from her landlord.
According to the lawyer for the family, Smith-Fields died and that police were present at the house.
Attorney Darnell Crosland stated that the family was treated badly when they called investigators. Crosland explained that an officer told the family to stop calling him.
“When Black women go missing, or something happens, nothing gets done,”He said.
The family accused the department of being a liar. “racially insensitive.”
“The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member,”Sunday was Ganim’s day. “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.”
The family’s attorney said that the investigation is ongoing and that leave has been granted. “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.
“Rawls’ sister, Rawls, said that no one ever notified them of her death. NBC News. “We had no choice but to investigate and discover where she was.”
Another officer who was “Ganim also announced that Ganim, who was in charge of overseeing these issues, resigned last Thursday.