Now that a criminal investigation has been launched into the mysterious death of Lauren Smith-Fields and two Bridgeport detectives have been suspended after being accused of mishandling her case and the case of Brenda Lee Rawls—a second Black woman who was found dead in Bridgeport the same day Smith-Fields’ body was found—Smith-Fieds’ mother, Shantell Fields, is speaking out about what she calls the “biggest misconception regarding her daughter’s death.
As ET reported, Fields and the family attorney, Darnell Crosland, appeared on The Real on Tuesday to speak out about, among other things, any misconception that her daughter was a drug addict.
As we previously reported, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined that Smith-Fields died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol,” and her death has officially been ruled an accident. And because the second drugs are even mentioned in relation to a Black person’s death, the mainstream perception is almost always immediately that the Black person’s death was their own fault, Fields had to set the record straight.
“The biggest misconception is that my daughter was on drugs,” she said. “She was not on drugs. Lauren worked out every day. She was on a plant-based diet. She went to college. She had her own business in her home. There was no drugs. She was not on drugs at all. She had her whole life ahead of her.”
Crosland also chimed in saying the family got “some semblance of justice” on Sunday after Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced the suspension of the two detectives.
It’s worth reiterating that those suspensions weren’t just about Smith-Fields, they were also about Brenda Lee Rawls, who, according to the New York Times, lived just two miles away from where Smith-Fields’ lived.
The Times reported that Rawls’ siblings heard from a neighbor—not the police—that their sister was dead, but they couldn’t find the body. So they went to her home and then called the police department, local hospitals, and funeral homes in search of her, but to no avail.
“We had to do our own investigation,” Dorothy Washington, Rawls’s sister, said. “The police never notified us of her death.”
The family reportedly found Rawls at the medical examiner’s office on Dec. 14, two days after she was pronounced dead. They also said they left several messages for Detective Angel Llanos—one of the two suspended detectives along with Dt. Kevin Cronin—but none of those calls were returned.
It’s a story that sounds eerily similar to that of the Fields family who said they only learned of Smith-Fields’ death via “a note on her door,” which was left by her landlord—not the police—who included a number where they could be reached.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Bridgeport Police Department has a history of being trash.
From the Times:
Over the past year, the Bridgeport Police Department has witnessed corruption in its highest ranks.
A federal judge in April 2021 sentenced the previous police chief, Armando Perez, to a year and a day in prison. Federal prosecutors had accused Mr. Perez of rigging the selection process to ensure that he became chief, and then later lying to the F.B.I. about it.
According to sentencing documents, Mr. Perez worked with David Dunn, the city’s acting personnel director, to tailor the scoring criteria to favor Mr. Perez. They used police officers to complete his examination materials, stole confidential examination questions, and attempted to influence an exam panelist, records show. Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and lying to the F.B.I.
Mr. Dunn was sentenced to four months in prison.
Corrupt, probably racist, and certainly negligent in their investigations into the deaths of Black women—there’s a reason so many of us shout “F*** the police.”