FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ 2/22/2022
On December 12, 2021, the Bridgeport Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received a call for service regarding an untimely death (No. 21000105892). Upon police arrival, it was found that Ms. Brenda Lee Rawls (DOB 12/02/1968) had passed away unexpectedly. As is protocol, the Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) Detective Bureau (DB) took charge of the untimely death investigation under DB case No. 21D-1890.
On January 31, 2022, the Bridgeport Police Department Identification Unit was advised by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) that Brenda Lee Rawls toxicology came back negative. The Rawls family was immediately notified. The family was also informed that additional tests were necessary before the OCME would make a decision on cause and manner of death.
On February 22, 2022, the Connecticut OCME determined the cause and manner of death of Ms. Brenda Lee Rawls. The manner of death has been certified as Natural. The cause of death has been certified as Cardiovascular Disease. The contributory cause of death is Diabetes. The OCME has notified the next of kin. The Detective Bureau will officially close this case once the OCME legal documents are physically received at the Bridgeport Police Department.
The Bridgeport Police Department continues to express their heartfelt sympathies to the Rawls family during this difficult time.
PREPARED BY: CAPTAIN KEVIN GILLERAN, DETECTIVE BUREAU
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR GANIM FOLLOWING FAMILY MEMBERS OF LAUREN SMITH-FIELDS & BRENDA LEE RAWLS SPEAK OUT AT POLICE CIMMISSION MEETING 2/15/22
“I want to restate my condolences to the families, mother, sisters of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls. I have heard the deep sadness, loss, and frustration from both families. I am re-affirming my continued commitment to get the answers that they deserve, and so that they may each properly grieve the loss of their valued family member and loved one.”
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2022
-BRIDGEPORT POLICE BRENDA LEE RAWLS UPDATE-
BRIDGEPORT, CT – On 12/12/21 the Bridgeport Fire, AMR and Bridgeport Police responded to the 800th block of Pearl Harbor St at 0942hrs on a report of an unresponsive female party. First Responders administered CPR and the party was pronounced deceased on-scene by on-scene personnel. The person was later identified as Brenda Lee Rawls, 53yrs old from Bridgeport.
As there were no physical signs of trauma or foul play that may have resulted in the untimely passing of Brenda Lee Rawls, the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause of death.
This remains an active investigation.
Link to previous press releases regarding Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls. Both are active investigations at this time handled by the Narcotics Division and Detective Bureau respectively. OIA is handling the personnel investigations, BPD will not comment on these pending personnel matters.
STATEMENT VIDEO: https://fb.watch/aSSOXa8CHy/
Mayor Joseph P. Ganim
For Immediate Release
January 30, 2022
-STATEMENT FROM MAYOR GANIM-
Mayor Expresses Disappointment in Bridgeport Police Department Leadership and Takes Action
I again would like to express condolences to the families of Lauren Smith-Fields, and also to the family of Brenda Lee Rawls.
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. 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.
To be clear:
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY BOTH DETECTIVE LLANOS AND DETECTIVE CRONIN ARE SUSPENDED FROM DUTIES AND PUT ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE OIA INVESTIGATION AND DISCIPLINARY CASE HAVE BEEN COMPLETED.
In addition, the supervisory officer who was in charge of overseeing these matters has retired from the department as of this past Friday.
The Bridgeport Police Department has high standards for officer sensitivity especially in matters involving the death of a family member. 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.
I want to be clear to members of the public and the department that insensitivity, disrespect in action, or deviation from policy will not be tolerated by me or others in this administration. My disappointment and demand for accountability in these and any other matter brought to my attention will remain until all the questions are answered to the satisfaction of all.
It should also be known that the untimely death of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls are both under active investigation and have been reassigned to members of the Bridgeport Police Department for resolution.
I want to thank Attorney Crossland, and the families, and the thousands of others for reaching out asking the questions that needed to be asked and that still need answers. I as mayor, but also as a father, cannot fully comprehend what you must be going through. I can only pledge my continued support to try to ease your pain by getting answers and holding those responsible accountable.
Notice to the public and media regarding all Incidents Reports, Medical Examiner Reports or documents related to this case.
As this is an active investigation there are many documents that are not yet available for public dissemination – OR – not within the legal rights for the police department to share. You may make a request for documents and records via the FOI portal by clicking here. Please note that the city advises that documents issued for public consumption are responsibly retained in a legal manner.
BRIDGEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT OPEN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AS A RESULT OF MEDICAL EXAMINER’S REPORT; January 25, 2022
On December 12, 2021, the Bridgeport Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received a call for service regarding an untimely death (No. 21000105864). Upon police arrival, it was found that Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields (DOB 01/23/98) passed away unexpectedly. As is protocol, the Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) Detective Bureau (D.B.) took charge of the untimely death investigation under D.B. case No. 21-105864.
On January 24, 2022, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) determined the cause and manner of death of Lauren Smith-Fields. The manner of death has been ruled an accident. Her cause of death is an overdose of Fentanyl combined with prescription medication and alcohol. The OCME has notified the next of kin.
Fentanyl is a strong narcotic associated with an epidemic of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States. The City of Bridgeport is not immune to this epidemic. As a result of the OCME’s report, the Bridgeport Police Narcotics and Vice Division have opened a criminal investigation under N.V. Case No. 22N-015. They will be assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Detective Bureau’s investigation will remain open as intelligence transitions to the Narcotics and Vice Division.
The Bridgeport Police Department's thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields.
We encourage anyone with information regarding the narcotics investigation to contact Narcotics and Vice Lieutenant Charles Johnson at (203) 449-2195 or the Bridgeport Police TIPS Line at (203) 576-TIPS.
PREPARED BY: CAPTAIN KEVIN GILLERAN DETECTIVE BUREAU, BRIDGEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT
STATEMENT FROM CHIEF OF POLICE, REBECA GARCIA; January 25, 2022
“The Bridgeport Police Department continues to treat the untimely death of Lauren Smith-Fields as an active investigation as we are now refocusing our attention and efforts to the factors that lead to her untimely death. We have engaged several partners to assist with this portion of the investigation. Once again, we offer our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Lauren Smith-Fields and ask that anyone with information to please contact 203 576-TIPS.”
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR GANIM RE: LAUREN SMITH-FIELDS; 1/24/22
I would like to restate the city’s condolences to the family and friends of Lauren Smith-Fields, and to the many caring individuals who have reached out seeking answers for Lauren. I recognize that the family and the community is experiencing a lot of pain because of the loss of a young woman in addition to unanswered questions and concerns about the way the matter has been handled.
First, sensitivity and care is of utmost importance when working with the family of a victim. There is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss. To that end, this matter has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.
Second, I share concerns echoed by many about the amount of time and manner a family is informed of a loss. Death notifications should be done in a manner that illustrates dignity for the deceased and respect and compassion for the family. Therefore, I will work with the Chief of Police to make appropriate changes here in Bridgeport now for our department’s policies and practices regarding notifying family members of a death. I support and add my voice to the family, community, and elected officials who are calling for state legislation on this issue.
Finally, I have contacted the State Medical Examiner to request assistance in expediting this matter so that the investigation can proceed and detectives may provide a comprehensive report to the family and parents of Lauren Smith-Fields.
I offer my support in bringing closure to the family during this terrible tragedy.
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE POLICE CHIEF REBECA GARCIA
Statement attached issued by BPD 1/11/22 Please click here.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY CHIEF REBECA GARCIA, Statement by BPD 12/22/21:
The Bridgeport Police Department takes all investigative matters very seriously. The Command Staff of the Detective Bureau is reviewing the handling of this case to ensure that best practices were and are being followed in order to provide conclusive and accurate information to the family. It is imperative to note that the death of Lauren Smith Fields remains an ongoing active investigation. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call 203-576-TIPS.