Mother Responds to New Criminal Probe Into Lauren Smith-Fields’s Death
- The family of Lauren Smith-Fields is still seeking answers from officials in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
- Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment last month after a date with a man she connected with on Bumble.
- Weeks after her death, the city police department announced a criminal investigation.
The family of Lauren Smith-Fields, a 23-year-old Black woman and social media influencer who was found dead in her Bridgeport, Connecticut, is seeking out answers surrounding her death.
“We’re going to get the word out on my daughter, Lauren Smith-Fields because her life did matter. Her voice was silenced,” Shantell Fields told Insider days after her daughter’s birthday, on which demonstrators gathered in the city chanting “Justice For Lauren.”
“I’m going to be her voice. Her father, her brothers, her whole entire family… we are all going to be her voice. We’re going to work diligently to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on and how they’re treating Black people, Black women, and Black men in Bridgeport, Connecticut.”
—Ethan Fry (@ethanfry) January 23, 2022
The Bridgeport Police Department said that Smith-Fields died in her home in December “unexpectedly” after she was discovered in her apartment on December 12. According to an incident report obtained by local news outlet WTNH, a man — who family members described as an “older white man” who she met on a popular dating app called Bumble — told police he woke up to find Smith-Fields unresponsive not breathing with blood coming out of her “right nostril.”
According to the report, the man said she got sick while they were drinking the night before and Smith-Fields was in the bathroom for about 10 to 15 minutes before she went to sleep. The report noted that the man, who said he only knew Smith-Fields for 72 hours, appeared to be “frantic” when police arrived at the scene.
Police collected her passport, credit card, and phone from her home, according to WTNH. However, the man who last accompanied Smith-Fields was not taken into custody for interrogation because police said he “was a nice guy,” her family members have told multiple outlets.
“It seems like they’re trying to erase her and they’re trying to let this Caucasian man just walk away scot-free. If the shoe was on the other foot and my daughter was found with a Caucasian man dead inside his apartment, she would be in jail right now,” Fields said. “We would be trying to raise bond just to get her out.”
The family and their attorney Darnell Crosland has been demanding answers from the Bridgeport Police Department regarding the circumstances surrounding Smith-Fields’s death. Fields previously said in an interview with Yahoo News that the department told them to stop calling about the case. The Bridgeport Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the family’s claim.
Smith-Fields’s family has openly criticized how the city of Bridgeport is handling the investigation and announced that plan to sue the city last week, NBC News reported. They allege that police did not gather crucial evidence from Smith-Fields apartment including an unspecified pill, used condom, and bloody sheets until weeks later, according to a notice of claim.
Bridgeport Police announced a criminal investigation into the case weeks after Lauren Smith-Fields’ death
Bridgeport Police on Tuesday announced it is launching a criminal investigation after the medical examiner ruled Smith-Fields’s death an accident and said she died due to “an overdose of fentanyl combined with prescription medication and alcohol.”
“As a result of the OCME’s report, the Bridgeport Police Narcotics and Vice Division have opened a criminal investigation,” Bridgeport Police Captain Kevin Gilleran said in the statement provided to Insider. “They will be assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Detective Bureau’s investigation will remain open as intelligence transitions to the Narcotics and Vice Division. The Bridgeport Police Department’s thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields.”
Crosland said that the family accepts that they are launching a probe, but hopes it starts with treating the last person known to be with Smith-Fields as “a person of interest.” Still, the family remained skeptical about the merits of the pending investigation.
“We feel like the police department has failed us because they didn’t handle this investigation in the proper manner when it started. We’ll accept it because there have been so many dark days between the time Lauren died and today. So, we’ll take any type of sunshine,” Crosland said in response to the announcement. “We want to know what that investigation is going to consist of and we’re hoping it’s … an actual investigation.”
“I think this right here is just something to shut us up. They’re actually not going to do anything about it,” Fields said.
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim also issued a statement offering condolences to the family and said the police handling of the case “has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.” Additionally, the mayor said he will work with the police department on death notifications after the family said that they were not informed about Smith-Fields’ death until days later by her landlord.
“I will work with the Chief of Police to make appropriate changes here in Bridgeport — now — for our department’s policies and practices regarding notifying family members of a death,” Ganim statement said.
Following weeks of lack of urgency, in this case, Crosland said, that they are conducting their own investigation. A GoFundMe created on behalf of the family has raised nearly $60,000 at the time of publication.
“We have to work on our own because we have no confidence in the Bridgeport Police Department,” Crosland said. “So, we have our own independent autopsy on the way. We have our own investigative team on the way.”