Brenda Lee Rawls Died of Natural Causes: Medical Examiner

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The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says a Bridgeport woman found dead in December died of natural causes.

Brenda Lee Rawls, 53, died December 12. Police treated her death as untimely, and Rawls' body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Farmington for an autopsy. The coroner said Tuesday that Rawls died of cardiovascular disease brought on by diabetes.

Rawls' family said they were never contacted about Brenda's death and they only learned about it days later when they weren't able to contact her. An acquaintance of Rawls told her family members that she had died, but he couldn't provide any other details.

It wasn't until they called the medical examiner's office that they got confirmation of her death.

The family said they felt Bridgeport police did not follow protocols and did not show adequate respect to Rawls and her family after her death.

Rawls died on the same day as 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields in Bridgeport.

Smith-Fields died of an accidental overdose of a combination of fentanyl, alcohol, and other drugs, according to the medical examiner.

Smith-Field's family said they experienced similar treatment after her death. They were not notified of her death, and felt mistreated by Bridgeport police.

Two officers were put on paid administrative leave in connection with the two death investigations.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said the two detectives are facing discipline for their “lack of sensitivity to the public and their failure to follow police procedure in the handling of these two matters."

“The family of Brenda Lee Rawls has reason to question the M.E. report and we are continually disappointed with the way the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut has shown a lack of value for black lives," Darnell Crosland, attorney for the Brenda Lee Rawls family, said in a statement.

"While we do not have a physical copy of the M.E. report we are told it concludes the cause of death was cardiac arrest. We know that there are many causes of cardiac arrest, and the conditions attendant to Brenda Lee Rawls and the unnamed man that she was with has not been investigated thus leaving this family with more questions than answers," the statement goes on to say.

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