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.
“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.