Detective involved in Lauren Smith-Fields case suspended
▶ Watch Video: Lauren Smith-Fields’ death ruled an accident, with drugs including fentanyl and alcohol to blame
A Connecticut police officer being investigated for their actions following the death of Lauren Smith-Fields has been suspended and placed on administrative leave, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced Sunday. The family of Smith-Fields, a 23-year old Black woman, claims they were not notified by police after she was found dead in December.
Another officer being investigated for a similar reason was also placed on leave, Ganim announced.
“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.”
Ganim last week announced an internal investigation into the police department’s interactions with Smith-Fields’ family following her death.
In December, Smith-Fields was found dead at her home following a date with a White man whom she met on the dating app Bumble. Smith-Fields’ mother, Shantell Fields, told CBS News that she drove to her daughter’s home after she was unable to get in touch with her.
“When I got there, there was a note on the door saying, ‘If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number,'” she said.
The family said that a detective told them Smith-Fields had been found dead about a day and half earlier, but nobody reached out to them. Smith-Fields’ brother, Tavar Gray-Smith, told “CBS Mornings” that the detective told them, “We didn’t need to reach out to any family member — we had her passport and her ID, so we knew who she was, and had already performed an autopsy, and her body is at the medical examiner’s office.”
Gray-Smith also said that the detective hung up on his and Smith-Fields’ father.
The family has called the police department’s response “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 Smith-Fields’ family told CBS News in a statement that placing the detective on leave is a “step in the right direction.”
Ganim also announced that the officer who was “in charge of overseeing these matters” resigned Friday.
The other officer who was suspended is accused of not informing the family of Brenda Rawls, a 53-year-old Black woman, of her death. Rawls was found dead the same day as Smith-Fields, according to NBC News.
“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.”
Ganim on Sunday said both women’s deaths are being investigated and have been reassigned to different members of the Bridgeport Police Department.
Last week, the medical examiner’s office said Smith-Fields died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol,” and ruled her death an accident.
CBS News correspondent Elise Preston contributed reporting.