Lauren Smith-Fields' Death Ruled Accidental Overdose, But Investigations Continue

Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, are proceeding with a criminal investigation into the 23-year-old Black woman's mysterious death during a date.
Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, speaks during a protest rally in front of the Morton Government Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Jan. 23.
Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, speaks during a protest rally in front of the Morton Government Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Jan. 23.
via Associated Press

Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said Tuesday that although a medical examiner has determined Lauren Smith-Fields died from an accidental drug and alcohol overdose, the department’s narcotics authorities are proceeding with a criminal investigation into her death.

“The Bridgeport Police Department continues to treat the untimely death of Lauren Smith-Fields as an active investigation as we are now refocusing our attention and efforts to the factors that lead [sic] to her untimely death,” Bridgeport Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said in a statement.

Smith-Fields, a 23-year-old Black woman, died last month after a date with a man she’d met on the dating app Bumble. She was found at her Bridgeport apartment.

“We have engaged several partners to assist with this portion of the investigation,” Garcia said, encouraging anyone with information to call 203-576-TIPS.

The mysterious circumstances around Smith-Fields’ death have captured national attention in recent weeks after her relatives expressed concern that police weren’t taking the investigation seriously ― alleging that they failed to collect evidence from Smith-Fields’ apartment for weeks following her death. An attorney for the family began the process of filing a lawsuit against the city of Bridgeport last week, accusing police of being “racially insensitive” and violating his clients’ civil rights.

Relatives of Lauren Smith-Fields say police failed to collect evidence from her apartment after her death.
Relatives of Lauren Smith-Fields say police failed to collect evidence from her apartment after her death.
via Associated Press

Late Monday, Connecticut’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released its findings that Smith-Fields’ death was caused by accidental “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol.”

Her family’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, told WTNH on Monday that those findings only raise more red flags.

“Now to find out that all of these substances are in their daughter’s body that basically took her life, they’re so angry right now,” he said. “This looks further like a manslaughter. It looks more like a murder, and if the police don’t start acting fast, we’re going to have a real big problem on our hands.”

Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 12, after Matthew LaFountain, the 37-year-old white man she was on a date with, called the police. LaFountain told police that he and Smith-Fields had been watching a movie and she’d fallen asleep, and that she’d stopped breathing and was bleeding from her nose.

Before that, Smith-Fields and LaFountain had been drinking tequila, the police report says. At one point, she felt ill and went to the bathroom to throw up. They reportedly continued drinking until she stepped outside to pick something up from her brother. After she returned, she went to the bathroom for several minutes, then came back and fell asleep.

The brother she met, Lakeem Jetter, told Rolling Stone last week that his sister showed no signs of intoxication when he saw her.

“I’m her second older brother, if I would have seen her drunk I would’ve said ‘What are you doing?’ ... ‘Why do you look like that?’” he said.

The family’s lawyer has complained that LaFountain has not been named a person of interest, though he was the last known person to see Smith-Fields alive. There was also a condom with semen and an unusual pill in Smith-Fields’ apartment, which police failed to find, her mother said.

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