What Happened to Lauren Smith-Fields? The Family Wants Answers

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Lauren Smith-Fields' Instagram

On December 12th, Lauren Smith-Fields was found unresponsive in her apartment after a date. Her family plans to sue Connecticut Police over the negligent investigation of her death.

On December 12th, Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, was found dead inside her Bridgeport, Connecticut apartment. The family said Smith-Fields had just met with an “older white man” from Bumble who then alerted Connecticut Police of her death. One month later, and the family of Smith-Fields still haven’t gotten the answers they are looking for and are planning to sue the Bridgeport Police Department for allegedly mishandling the investigation.

According to HuffPost, the Bridgeport Police Department reported that Smith-Fields was drinking tequila in her Plymouth Street apartment with her Bumble date, Matthew LaFountain, when she became ill and went to vomit. As the two allegedly continued drinking, Smith-Fields received a text and stepped outside. The incident report said that she’d gone outside to retrieve something from her brother, returning to her bathroom where she stayed for over ten minutes.

The next morning, LaFountain called police after discovering blood leaking from an unresponsive Smith-Fields’ right nostril. She also wasn’t breathing. After the report was filed, the family of Smith-Fields claim that there are inconsistencies and allege that foul play was involved.

Below are key pieces of information worth knowing about the ongoing investigation.

Who is Lauren Smith-Fields?

Born January 23rd, 1998, in Bridgeport, Smith-Fields attended Stamford High School in Connecticut where she was a track star. The 23-year-old was also enrolled at Norwalk Community College for cosmetology, but her desire was to become a physical therapist. According to her obituary, loved “fashion… to travel and enjoy life and her family.”

Who is Matthew LaFountain?

Smith-Fields met 37-year-old Matthew LaFountain on Bumble. The two met for a date on December 11th. LaFountain claims that Smith-Fields asked him for $40 to get her nails done and invited him over to her apartment. When LaFountain woke up at 6:30 A.M. on December 12th, he said that Smith-Fields was lying on her right side, bleeding from her nose and not breathing. After calling 9-1-1, he then claimed that they didn’t have sex and he was laying with her fully clothed.

Despite LaFountain being the last person Smith-Fields was with, according to Rolling Stone, the Bridgeport Police Department didn’t further question or arrest him because he seemed like a “nice guy”.

‘When I asked the officer about [LaFountain], he said he was a very nice guy and they weren’t looking into him anymore. It was almost like he was sticking up for him and it seemed weird to hear that from a detective,’ her brother Lakeem Jetter told NBC Connecticut.

What Happened at the Scene of the Crime?

After Smith-Fields was found dead, Bridgeport police officers confiscated her phone, passport and $1,345 in cash but neglected to retrieve other key pieces of evidence. Her family later searched her apartment, telling Rolling Stone that they found a used condom in the trash, lubricant, bloody sheets on her bed and an unidentified pill.

“The first night we saw cups there, flipped plates and the lube. The cops didn’t take any of the cups to test the liquor,” Jetter told Rolling Stone. “There was a big stain of blood in the middle of her bed, with streaks going to the right side.”

The family’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, also mentioned the questionable circumstances of the investigation.

“There’s a typical protocol that’s followed when you have a situation like this. If you have a husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend call the police because one of them is dead, typically the person who is surviving is pivotal to the investigation,” he told Yahoo News. “Most times they are looked at as a suspect because they were the last person with the deceased, and in this particular case, the police have been very hesitant to even call this person a ‘person of interest.’”

The Family’s Lawsuit Against the Bridgeport Police Department

Claiming that the Bridgeport Police Department have been unprofessional in handling Smith-Fields’ investigation, her family announced that they would be pursuing legal action towards the department. Detective Kevin Cronin also failed to properly notify the family of her death, with the department even telling her family to stop calling them. Cronin has since been removed from the case.

“In the beginning of this nightmare out family was extremely mistreated by The Bridgeport Police Department who as we stated initially declined to investigate Lauren’s untimely death,” the family wrote on their GoFundMe page. “Although BDP has now decided to begin to conduct an investigation, our family would like to conduct one of our own!”

What Did Smith-Fields Autopsy Reveal?

On Monday evening, the Medical Examiner per NBC Connecticut announced that Smith-Fields cause of death was acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol. With her death being ruled an accident, the autopsy was released just one day after her family said they intended to sue the city and police officials for negligence. On Sunday–what would’ve been Smith-Fields’ 24th birthday–her family also hosted a protest march in Bridgeport, according to News10 ABC.

How Has Social Media Responded to the death of Smith-Fields?

Hashtag #justiceforlaurensmithfields has now gone viral on social media platforms, with multiple TikTok creators raising awareness about her death. TikTokers have accurately pointed out that 100,000 Black women and girls have gone missing in 2020–many unsolved and unreported in the U.S.–the death of Smith-Fields follows this unsettling trend.

“It’s happening all too often with Black girls missing across this world, across this country, and no one says anything,” Crosland told Rolling Stone. “When a white woman goes missing, the whole world drops everything. We are done with this valuation.”

This story was updated on January 25th, 2022.

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