A Connecticut mayor has suspended two police detectives for their handling of investigations into the deaths of two black women and harshly criticized the leadership of the local police department for an ‘unacceptable failure’ and ‘insensitivity.’
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim on Sunday released a strongly worded statement, announcing that detectives Angel Llanos and Kevin Cronin were being placed on administrative leave effective immediately pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs Investigation.
‘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,’ the mayor stated.
Ganim added that the two cops could face disciplinary actions ‘for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy’ in the handling of the investigations into the deaths of Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, and Brenda Rawls, 53, both black women, on the same day last month.
The mayor’s statement was released two days after Llanos, who was the supervisory officer in charge of overseeing Smith-Fields and Rawls’ cases, retired from the force.
It is unclear at this time if Llanos’ departure means that he will no longer be subjected to the internal probe or any potential disciplinary measures.
Smith-Fields was found unresponsive in her apartment on December 12, 2021, while on a date with a man she had met on Bumble. Last week, the state medical examiner ruled her death an accident caused by a fentanyl overdose in combination with other medications and alcohol. The following day, a criminal investigation was launched into the woman’s death.
Smith-Fields’ date, Matthew LaFountain, who is white, has not been charged with any crimes, or named a suspect or a person of interest in her death. His attorney told DailyMail.com that his client is cooperating with the investigation and ‘maintains his innocence.’
Smith-Fields’ family and their attorney have criticized the police for failing to notify them of the college student’s death in a timely manner, and said that a detective told a relative to stop calling him for updates, and hung up after saying that LaFountain was ‘a very nice guy.’
Darnell Crosland, the attorney representing Smith-Fields’ relatives, has signaled his intent to sue the city over the police department’s ‘racially insensitive’ handling of the woman’s death.
Crosland also has publicly criticized the state medical examiner for ruling Smith-Fields’ death an accident before it has been determined how the drugs, including fentanyl, ended up in her system, arguing that the 23-year-old did not use narcotics of any kind.
Rawls also died on December 12, after telling her family that she was going to the home of a male acquaintance down the road from her house in Bridgeport.
The woman’s family claimed that they, too, were left in the dark about their loved one’s passing by the police, who they said have not returned any of their calls or messages. They said they learned that Rawls had died only when they contacted the state medical examiner after two days.
More than seven weeks later, Rawls’ family are still waiting to learn her cause and manner of death.
Families of both women attended a rally in Bridgeport on Sunday, which would have been Smith-Fields’ 24th birthday, to demand accountability from the police and the city.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail