Family accuses police of racial insensitivity during investigation into death of 23-year-old woman

Connecticut

“All we get is our faces with doors shut and hollow promises.”

Lauren Smith-Fields’ mother, Shantel Fields, stands with family members during a protest rally in front of Morton Government Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut. AP. via Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

The family of a black woman found dead in her Bridgeport apartment last month has accused city police of showing a lack of accountability and racial insensitivity in conducting the investigation.

Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, died after a man she had recently met online on December 12 called police to say she awoke to find Smith-Fields unresponsive. Smith-field’s family said police never informed them of her death, which they learned of it more than a day later through a note left by her landlord on the door of her apartment.

The family said police told them that the man who called the authorities was not a suspect in his death, but did not tell them why. The detective eventually told him to stop calling, he said. family lawyer, darnell crosslandhas informed the city of its intention to file a lawsuit accusing the police of failing to investigate properly.

“The Police Department has been racially insensitive to this family and has treated this family with no respect and violated their civil rights,” Crosland wrote.

The city said in a statement that they are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to determine the cause of Smith-Fields’ death and the investigation is ongoing.

Mayor Joe Ghanim said on Monday that sensitivity and respect for family members is important and referred the matter to the Office of Internal Affairs to investigate. He said he would work with the police chief to make changes to the department’s methods for notifying family members of a death.

“I support and add my voice to the family, community and elected officials who are demanding state legislation on this issue,” he said.

About 100 people rallied in Bridgeport on Sunday, what would have been the 24th birthday of Smith-Field, who would have asked the state to take charge of the police investigation.

His father, Everett Smith, said during the rally, “We just keep getting the doors shut and hollow promises to our faces.” Hearst Connecticut Media,

The family is also demanding an internal affairs inquiry to deal with the death and asking state lawmakers to pass laws that notify loved ones within 24 hours if someone is found dead.

maria pereira, a city council woman whose district includes the Smith-Fields home, said the way the woman’s family has been treated and showed clear respect for the 37-year-old white man who died after her death. Time was with him, he is stunned.

“Do you think that if a 23-year-old white daughter of a white mother or father died and the last person she saw was an older black man she met on a dating site, do you think that would have been handled? Would it be the same way?” Democrats said. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe it.”

Pereira said she also wants answers for the 53-year-old’s family Brenda Rawls, another black woman who died in Bridgeport around the same time. Perera said that even his family was not informed about the death by the police and came to know after a few days.

“What kind of behavior is this?” he said. “Why are family members searching for a missing loved one when the police know that the person is dead? Where is the responsibility to inform the family?”

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