The Family of Lauren Smith-Fields Puts the Bridgeport Police on Notice

“We’re filing a lawsuit here in Bridgeport to compel them to process this case, to protect this family, and to give them the equal rights they deserve under the Connecticut Constitution.”
– Darnell Crosland, the family lawyer, to News 12 Connecticut

By Andréa Butler

In the early morning hours of December 12, 2021, 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her bed — by the 37-year-old white man she’d met on Bumble and had her first date with the night before.

The man has previously been identified as Matthew LaFountain, and according to a recent CBS Mornings report, he called 911 after waking up next to Lauren the morning after their date to discover she was bleeding from her nose and not breathing. The news report also discloses what LaFountain told police: They’d just been “eating, drinking, and watching movies,” and at some time during their date, Lauren went outside to meet someone. Later, she started to not feel well, fell asleep, and LaFountain carried her to her bed — and got in next to her where he fell asleep, too.

Sound mad sus? You wouldn’t be the only one to think so. First, there’s the way her family found out. Instead of being notified by police, Lauren’s mom Shantell Fields, along with Lauren’s brother Lakeem, drove to her apartment after not hearing from her for a couple days. There, they found a note on the door that said, “If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number.” The number, it turns out, belonged to the landlord who then told Shantell and Lakeem that Lauren had died.

And then, there’s the way the police handled the case from jump. In an email the family sent to Bridgeport, Connecticut city leaders, which they shared with NBC Connecticut, they detail more of what police say LaFountain told them of what happened. They also reveal the police’s response to their questions about how Lauren’s date was being investigated, which was: “I don’t think there is anything to investigate. He seems like a really great guy.”

Since then, Lauren’s family has hired lawyer Darnell Crosland and is planning to sue the city for violating Lauren’s civil rights and mishandling the investigation into her death. And Crosland did not come to play, straight up calling out the BPD’s acting chief Rebeca Garcia: “Stop lying to the public and show some compassion and respect to this family. You have yet to sit with us. You are truly an actor.”

On January 23, what would have been Lauren’s 24th birthday, the family held a march from the Bridgeport police department to city hall, further bringing light to her case.

But another blow was dealt the next day when the medical examiner’s report stated “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol” caused Lauren’s death, and it was ruled accidental. “The M.E. findings doesn’t [sic] cure any of Bridgeport Police Department [sic] lack of process, in fact it makes it worse. As a result of a botched investigation this morning we are left with more questions than answers,” Crosland tweeted.

As of January 26, that ruling was reversed, and now, her death is being investigated as a crime — with the Drug Enforcement Administration (the DEA) joining the case. The family and Crosland give props to Cardi B. and everyone else who’s been vocal about seeking justice for Lauren these past six weeks.

Original photo in main collage: Lauren Smith-Fields (@soooolalaa)/Instagram


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