Arbitrator Says Bridgeport Police Detective Was Wrongly Placed on Leave: Report

The detective will be removed from administrative leave and will be offered 128 hours of overtime opportunities to make up for the past 16 weeks on leave.

bridgeport police
NBC Connecticut

An arbitrator that was tasked with investigating Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim's decision to place a detective on leave found that he acted inappropriately in doing so.

According to the arbitrator's report, Ganim wrongly placed Detective Angel Llanos on administrative leave for his response to the death of Brenda Lee Rawls.

Questions into the deaths of Lauren Smith-Fields and Rawls, and the police department's handling of their cases, have swirled in recent months.

Llanos was one of two detectives placed on leave for their handling of the Smith-Fields and Rawls' deaths. Detective Cronin was also placed on leave pending an internal police probe.

Llanos is a 33-year veteran of the police department who has no disciplinary history. The arbitrator said he had "an impeccable career."

“This was a clear case of the City denying an employee their rights under collective bargaining. We urge Mayor Ganim and the City to abide by the arbitrator’s decision and follow the remedies he prescribed in the award, which include removing Det. Llanos from administrative leave and making him whole for the economic losses he suffered," said Larry Dorman, public affairs coordinator for the police union, AFSCME Council 4.

The arbitrator's report noted that Llanos' placement on leave resulted in substantial documented financial losses.

In his testimony, Llanos showed that he followed the department's policy on death notification. He said that his actions on both the death notification and filing a case report were no different than the other DOAs he had been called to throughout his career, according to the report.

The report indicated that Llanos and a patrol officer tried to contact the next of kin but weren't able to reach them. The detective then told his supervisor that he wasn't able to perform a death notification, officials said.

"In sum, the city is not able to show and prove that the grievant [Llanos] failed to follow policy or practice concerning the woman's untimely passing and the notification of her family," the arbitrator stated.

The police union argued that the administrative leave being imposed six weeks after the incidents "shows that the department did not see a need of justification to act," the report said.

In contrast, the city argued that the chief has the ability and right to place Llanos on administrative leave. City officials also said that Llanos' actions, or lack of, regarding the DOA justifies placing him on leave, according to the report.

As a result of their investigation, the arbitrator said that Ganim placing Llanos on leave violated Article 11, Section 10 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Llanos will be removed from administrative leave as soon as possible and will be offered 128 hours of overtime opportunities to make up for the past 16 weeks on leave.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Rawls, who was found dead in December, died of natural causes.

Brenda Rawls
Family Photo
Brenda Lee Rawls, 53.

Police treated her death as untimely, and Rawls' body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Farmington for an autopsy. In March, the coroner said that Rawls died of cardiovascular disease brought on by diabetes.

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