State Rep. Felipe Backs Bill Calling For Timely Family Notification Of Deceased

State Rep. Antonio Felipe is backing a House bill submitted to the Judiciary Committee requiring death notification within 24 hours to the families of next of kin. Law enforcement notification to family members has emerged as an issue following the December deaths of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls.

Smith-Fields died from an accidental drug/alcohol overdose, Rawls from heart disease, according to state medical examiner reports. Respective family members, however, have taken issue with law enforcement handling of the cases.

From Felipe:

“Recently we have seen a disregard and lack of respect for two black women who lost their lives. The families of Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls have a right to know what happened to them. A process should be in place to notify families when they lose their loved ones,” Rep. Felipe said.

House Bill #5349 calls for notification of next of kin within 24 hours of finding and identifying a body or reasonable explanation of a delay in reporting. The bill will have a public hearing in the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 9 at 10:00 am via Zoom.

“It’s deeply upsetting that this legislation is even necessary. This is a wrong being righted. The right to know the wellbeing of loved ones should be recognized as a human right. I thank chairs Stafstrom and Winfield for hearing my plea and raising this important legislation,” Rep. Felipe added.

Antonio Felipe represents the 130th District in Bridgeport. In addition to Deputy Majority Leader, he serves on the Appropriations (Chair of Childhood Education), Education and Public Safety and Security Committees.



  1. I wonder if JML and Rep. Felipe have the same definition of ‘timely’. The Public hearing is March 9, 2022. Here’s an opportunity for law enforcement to be heard. Paging detective Cronin, Llanos and Chief Rebecca Garcia.

  2. I have referred to actual Police Department policy in Bridgeport. G.O. 6.16 deals with Death Notifications. Earlier comments on OIB found few if any bloggers supporting the manner in which the media represented police activity when first confronted with the separate situations of the deaths of females of color on December 12, 2021.
    Legislators respond with framing new rules, regulations, or laws AFTER THEY DO THE OVERSIGHT. But why pass a law for folks across the entire state when the only failure reported at the moment has been in Bridgeport?? What about Rep Felipe making inquiry of all the facts of the investigations, at least the parts having to do with the initial phases where family notification is concerned? By the way after reading about facts discovered and forming a storyline for the Police, does the story continue to reveal that two women of color, dating men that evening who are otherwise reported or presumed white, were treated differently had the females each been white, with dates that evening reported or presumed of color? Does the fact that one of the men may be employed by the City form another layer of protection? Time will tell.

  3. Sounds like this bill is intended to do exactly what detectives have been doing. They currently try notifying next-of-kin ASAP and if they can’t, an explanation is written.

    “The right to know the wellbeing of loved ones should be recognized as a human right.” Can’t be doing that ‘well’ if he or she is dead.

  4. How are they defining next of kin? It is not like people have it posted on their refrigerator or in their wallet who to contact in the case of an emergency. I mean some might, but the average person don’t. With the way technology is now, police should be able to get inside people’s phone and go to the call log and reach out to the last few people the person spoke to. It sounds straight forward to me. Why do you need a bill for this? But I get what the representative is doing. At least it is a start. Where are the Black legislators and Pro-Black activist on this? Paging Ron and Don!


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