A second family in, Bridgeport, Conn., says the city’s police department badly mishandled the death of a Black woman on the same day as another suspicious case.
That day was Dec. 12, 2021. NBC News reports that 53-year-old Brenda Rawls was found dead in her Bridgeport home after her family, who normally spoke to her daily, didn’t hear from her for several days.
Rawls’ cause of death is yet undetermined but the circumstances of her passing, and her family’s allegations about the police response, are similar to those in the death of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields, who was also found dead in her own Bridgeport apartment.
Smith-Fields was also found by a 37-year-old white man who she’d previously met through a dating app and gone out with on Dec. 12. The Connecticut medical examiner’s office on Jan. 24 ruled her death an “accident” that resulted from a combination of alcohol, fentanyl, promethazine and hydroxyzine in her system.
Officials finally opened a criminal investigation into her death this week, but Smith-Fields’ family was already preparing to sue Bridgeport’s police department, which they say hasn’t taken the investigation of her death seriously.
From NBC News
[Family attorney Darnell] Crosland said the family says they were not contacted by police for days and learned of Smith-Fields’ death from her building’s landlord, who directed them to police.
Crosland also alleges that police did not initially conduct a thorough search of the apartment. Two weeks after her death, at the urging of her family, Crosland said, police visited the apartment and collected a condom with semen in it from the bathroom and a pill. He said police told the family the condom and pill were sent to a lab for analysis. Crosland also alleges that the family was told by the first detective assigned to the case to stop calling to inquire about the investigation.
That’s not too far off from what Rawls’ family says they experienced. Rawls went to visit a man she knew, and then after two days of not hearing from her, her family went to his house.
From NBC News
When they asked him whether she was there, he told them that he couldn’t wake her up on Dec. 12 and that she had died, Washington said.
Angela Rawls Martin, another of the sisters, said: “He gave me the clothing that she had on and her shoes. I don’t understand why that was left behind.”
Bridgeport police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Nobody ever notified us that she died,” Washington said. “We had to do our own investigation and find out where she was.”
One of the Rawls sisters called a funeral home to ask whether her body was there, but it wasn’t. Washington said the funeral home advised the family to contact the state medical examiner’s office, and that’s where they found her.
We’ll keep you updated.