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Family of Black woman in Connecticut found dead question police response


The family of a Black woman found dead in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on the same day as Lauren Smith-Fields allege that city police have not investigated her death or taken the case seriously, reports NBC BLK. And like Smith-Fields’ family, they said police never notified them of her death. They said they learned she had died through their own investigating.

The woman, Brenda Rawls, 53, died Dec. 12. The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that the cause of death has not yet been determined. Her sister Dorothy Rawls Washington said she and her sisters are close and talk on the phone or text one another every day. On Dec. 11, Brenda Rawls told her family that she planned to go to the home of a male acquaintance who lived down the street from her. Her family said they tried unsuccessfully to reach her Dec. 12 and 13.

“Then, on the 14th, we said something’s wrong,” Washington said. “So two of my sisters, my niece and my niece’s boyfriend walked down to that male’s house.” 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.”

“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.

“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.”

The family provided NBC News with copies of four letters they said they sent to Mayor Joseph Ganim and acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia. They said they have not received any responses.