Two Connecticut police officers are on administrative leave after a mayor stepped in to investigate police response to the deaths of two Black women last month.
On Sunday (January 30) Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim expressed his condolences to the families of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls who were both found dead December 12 of last year. Each of their families say they were never notified by authorities about their loved ones' deaths and have come out against they way police are handling each investigation.
Ganim said he is "extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department," and finds the actions –– and lack thereof –– by officers "unacceptable." The two officers on leave are facing an internal affairs investigation.
Ganim also instructed Deputy Chief James Baraja to take disciplinary action against the officers "for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy," according to a statement, CNN reported.
The supervising officer who oversaw the Smith-Fields and Rawls cases retired from the department Friday (January 28). The cases have now been reassigned to other members of the department, Ganim announced.
Twenty-three-year-old Smith-Fields was found unresponsive in her apartment after a man she'd recently met on a dating app called 911 from her home. Her family says they found evidence left at her residence and that Bridgeport Police told them to stop calling the station for answers. A state medical examiner ruled her death an accidental overdose, which is now being investigated as a crime.
The family of 53-year-old Brenda Lee Rawls say they first found out about her death after speaking with an acquaintance who said he found her unresponsive and could not wake her. It was days before they located her remains at the state medical examiner's office after making multiple calls to police and calling around to local funeral homes for answers.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.