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Family of a Black Deceased Criticize Police Efforts After Their Daughter Death

The family of a black deceased has called out the police for not investigating the death of their daughter, Brenda Rawls, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that occurred on the same day as Lauren Smith-Fields.

The Family stated that the police did not notify them of Smith-Fields’ death. Instead, they found out that she had died through their own investigation.

53-year-old Brenda Rawls died on December 12. It has not yet been determined what caused the death, according to the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Dorothy Rawls Washington said that she and her sisters are close and that they communicate each day by text or phone. On Dec. 11,

Earlier, Brenda Rawls had informed her relatives as she planned a visit to a male friend just down her street.

After that moment, relatives tried to reach her all, but couldn’t get in touch with her.

“Then, on the 14th, we said something’s wrong,” Washington told.

“So two of my sisters, my niece and my niece’s boyfriend walked down to that male’s house.”

Washington said that when they asked him about her on Dec. 12, he said that he could not wake her up and that she had died.

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According to Angela Rawls Martin, who is also a sister to the deceased, said: “He gave me the clothing that she had on and her shoes. I don’t understand why that was left behind.”

When reached, the Bridgeport police didn’t respond.

“Nobody ever notified us that she died,” Washington stated.

“We had to do our own investigation and find out where she was.”

In search of her body, one of the Rawls sisters called a funeral home, but there was none.

Her body was later found at the state medical examiner’s office after advice by the funeral home.

“They never took any opportunity to look for next of kin,” she said of police. “The next time we saw our sister, she was in a funeral home.”

Four letters that the family claimed to have written to Mayor Joseph Ganim and acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia were provided to NBC News.

According to the family, no responses have been received. Upon request, a Ganim spokeswoman declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Ganim said that he plans to discuss with the police chief how to “make appropriate changes here in Bridgeport now for our department’s policies and practices regarding notifying family members of a death.”

Martin wrote in the letter how she spoke to the police several times and that when she asked him whether police had searched her sister’s apartment or the residence where she was found, he told her it was not in the police report.

In an interview, she said the same police also apologized to her and told her that police had “dropped the ball” concerning the investigation into her sister’s death.

She wrote in the letter that when she asked the police whether they searched her sister’s apartment or the residence where she came to be found, the cop said it wasn’t in the police report.

According to her, the same police officers apologized to her and notified her the investigation into her sister’s death had been botched.

“They treated my sister Brenda like she was a Jane Doe,” she said. “Like they found her on the side of the road with no identification. They have no respect.”

Who is Smith-Fields and How Her Death Relates to Brenda Rawls

After meeting a man on the dating app, Smith-Fields was found dead at her apartment.

A 37-year-old white man called 911 on Dec. 12 to report that she had suffered a nosebleed and was unresponsive.

According to the chief medical examiner’s office, Smith-Fields died as a result of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol.”

Afterward, Bridgeport police announced that a criminal investigation had been opened following the medical examiner’s report.

According to Ganim, Smith-Fields’ case will be investigated by the police department’s Office of Internal Affairs.

On Sunday, which was Smith-Fields’ 24th birthday, Washington held a rally for her in Bridgeport.

Read More: A Federal Judge in Alabama Has Ruled That the State’s Redistricting Violated African-American Voting Rights.

Two Similar Pattern of Death, But No Justice

In both cases, families are calling for an investigation into the deaths of Smith-Fields and Rawls.

“It will not be a fair or thorough investigation if done by the city,” Washington announced.

A member of the City Council, Maria Pereira, said she didn’t know the two women had died on the same day and that their cases were handled by the same precinct until the rally.

Democrat Pereira pointed out that the two cases have many similarities in common including being Black, dying suddenly at young ages, being on dates with men that found them dead, and their families not having been notified.

Pereira said that neither the death scene nor forensic evidence was secured or processed. In addition, both families claimed Bridgeport police were inhumane in their actions.

“So now what I see here is a pattern with the Bridgeport PD,” she added.

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