The Bridgeport Police Department has placed two detectives on administrative leave after facing criticism of mishandling the investigations into the deaths of two African-American women.
On Dec. 12, both Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, and Brenda Lee Rawls, 53, were found dead in separate incidents, CNN reported.
Police received a call from a man who met Smith-Fields on Bumble. He said when he woke up, she was bleeding from her nose and was unresponsive.
The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled her death an accident and claimed she died from acute intoxication due to a combination of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine and alcohol.
An attorney for Smith-Fields’ family says the police department did not notify them of her death. They learned that Smith-Fields was deceased a day later, from the building’s manager.
Shortly after the examiner’s announcement, the police department launched a criminal investigation into her death.
Rawls was also found unresponsive at a residence in Bridgeport on Dec. 12th and similar to the Smith-Fields case, Rawls’ family was not notified of her death, which remains unknown, CNN reported.
Rawls’ relatives are accusing the police department of not taking her death seriously.
Mayor Joseph Ganim stated he was “extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department and find actions taken up to this point unacceptable,” NBC News reported.
Ganim stated Detectives Kevin Cronin and Angel Llanos are being investigated by internal affairs and are facing consequences “for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy in the handling of these two matters.”
Dorothy Rawls Washington, Rawls’ sister pushed back and questioned why the mayor waited over a month to address the death of her sister. She told NBC News that he only spoke up “because he’s feeling the heat.”
At this time, the investigations into Smith-Fields and Rawls’ death have been reassigned to other members within the police department.
Washington added that her family has no confidence in local police and would like the FBI, Justice Department or state to take over the investigation into Rawls’ death.