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2 Detectives Suspended Due to Handling of Lauren Smith-Fields’ and Brenda Rawls’ Death Investigation

Bridgeport, Ct – Bridgeport officials announced Sunday that detectives involved in the death investigations of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Rawls have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs

The probe and suspensions come after Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim expressed his disappointment with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) and called for the suspension of the two detectives for their mishandling of the cases.

The families of both women, found dead under mysterious circumstances on the same day, say that the BPD did not adequately investigate their deaths, or even contact them to inform them that their loved one had died. 

Both families complained about detectives not returning their calls, hanging up on them, or being treated callously when they did speak with detectives. 

In addition to being treated unprofessionally by detectives, both families criticized the investigations into their relative’s death. 

Smith-Fields’ family said that, although Bridgeport police confiscated the dead woman’s phone, passport and $1,345 in cash from her home, they left glaring pieces of evidence untouched and failed to detain or properly question Matthew LaFountain – the man Smith-Fields was with when she died. 

“In the beginning of this nightmare our family was extremely mistreated by The Bridgeport Police Department who, as we stated initially, declined to investigate Lauren’s untimely death,” the family wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Rawls’ family said they were unsure whether police searched Rawls’ apartment or the residence where she was found, saying that it wasn’t written in their police report and that they had ‘dropped the ball’ on the investigation.

“They treated my sister Brenda like she was a Jane Doe,” Rawls’ sister, Dorothy Rawls Washington said. “Like they found her on the side of the road with no identification. They have no respect.’  

Mayor Ganim released a video late Sunday announcing the suspension of Detectives Angel Llanos and Kevin Cronin in connection to their roles in the investigations. He also announced that the supervising officer in charge of overseeing the investigations has retired from the department. 

Ganim said the two detectives are facing discipline for their “lack of sensitivity to the public and their failure to follow police procedure in the handling of these two matters.”

“The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member,” Ganim said in the video. “It is an unacceptable failure that policies were not followed.”

“To the families, friends, and all who care about human decency that should be shown in these situations in this case, by members of the police department, I am very sorry.”

Ganim also announced that he would work with the police chief to make changes to the police department’s policies and practices when it comes to notifying family members of a death.

Both Smith-Fields and Rawls’ deaths are under active investigation and have been reassigned to members of the Bridgeport Police Department for resolution, Ganim said.

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