Detective on Lauren Smith-Fields case suspended, mayor says
Mayor Joe Ganim said Sunday he was "extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department."
The detective first involved with the investigation into the death of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields has been suspended.
The Bridgeport, Connecticut, officer was investigated after the woman’s family said they were not notified of the death of their loved one by police. Another officer has also been placed on leave for a similar reason, amounting to failure to follow police policy, according to CBS News.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim expressed his frustration with the officers in a statement Sunday, writing: “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.”
As previously reported, Smith-Fields was last seen with someone she met on the dating app Bumble, a man who has been identified by The Daily Mail as Matthew LaFountain.
The Bridgeport medical examiner’s office said Smith-Fields died of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine and alcohol. CNN reports her cause of death was ruled an accident by Dr. Christopher Borck of Connecticut’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
According to an ABC News report, LaFountain told authorities he and Smith-Fields were drinking in her apartment, and at 3 a.m., he heard her snoring, but later that morning, he awoke to find blood was coming out of her nose, and she was unresponsive. Numerous reports have noted Bridgeport Police called LaFountain a “nice guy.” The police wrote in their report that he was “frantic,” and when he answered the door, he was “trembling and visibly shaken.”
As previously reported, to make their case that Bridgeport Police engaged in an intentional “lack of humanity,” Smith-Field’s parents, Everett Smith and Shantell Fields, allege that despite authorities possessing multiple items that identified their daughter, they only learned of her death days later after discovering a note on her front door — from her landlord — with a number to call.
“No one,” said Fields, “is going to discard my daughter like she is rubbish.”
The family is pushing for a law that would require timely death notification to families. Connecticut State Senator Dennis Bradley, who represents Smith-Fields’ district, has reportedly submitted a bill that will “require by statute that every police department within 24 hours either communicate or make a clear and present attempt to communicate with family members.”
“It is an unacceptable failure if policies were not followed,” Mayor Ganim said Sunday. “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.”
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