Lauren Smith-Fields’ family to sue city of Bridgeport over death investigation
Dozens of Smith-Fields' friends, family and members of the Bridgeport community rallied Sunday, calling for answers.
The family of 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields is poised to sue the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for what it describes as a lack of transparency and humanity from officials at the police department probing her death.
A rally was held on Sunday, where dozens of Smith-Fields’ friends, family and members of the Bridgeport community came together to call for answers from police officials and to honor the life of the young woman, who reportedly died under mysterious circumstances last month. The event was held on what would have been her 24th birthday.
Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 12, reportedly after going on a date with a man she met on the dating app Bumble, who was later identified by The Daily Mail as Matthew LaFountain. According to News 8, he told officers that he woke up next to the young woman to find “blood was coming out of her right nostril,” and “she was not breathing.”
However, the family is alleging that the state laboratory never received physical evidence from Smith-Fields, including a pill used as a sedative, a condom and “a round bloodstain in the middle of [Smith-Fields’] bed.” Further, in the notice of their claim to sue the city of Bridgeport, the family’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, also alleges that police refused to even interview LaFountain, the person last seen with Smith-Fields.
Smith-Fields’ father, Everett Smith said, “when we asked about this guy, [the detective said] ‘he was a nice guy, there was no need to investigate.” The family is claiming that investigators have been negligent and have thus violated Smith-Fields’ civil rights and theirs as well.
As part of their argument that Bridgeport Police engaged in an intentional “lack of humanity,” her parents allege that despite authorities possessing multiple items that identified their daughter, they only learned of her death days later after discovering a note on her front door — from her landlord — with a number to call.
“No one is going to discard my daughter like she is rubbish,” declared her mother, Shantell Fields.
At Sunday’s rally, Smith and Fields called for an independent investigation by the state.
“To lose your daughter, your only daughter, your baby girl, at such a ripe age of 23 years old and to be treated the way we [were] treated by the Bridgeport police station and the department is unacceptable,” Smith said, adding, “All we keep getting is doors closed in our faces and empty promises.”
For their part, the Bridgeport Police Department released a statement, saying, “The Detective Bureau is awaiting the final report from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office for cause and manner of death of Ms. Smith-Fields. The Bridgeport Police Department offers its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields. Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said that upon receipt of outstanding reports, including the final findings from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Bridgeport police will release a final report.”
According to the department, “there are elements of misinformation being reposted by various sources but once again, we will be releasing a final comprehensive report at conclusion of this investigation.”
In another statement earlier this month, authorities appeared to soften their stance amid public pressure, saying they took the concerns “very seriously,” and that they were “reviewing the handling of this case to ensure that best practices were and are being followed.”
The investigation into Smith-Fields’ death is said to be ongoing. Her family is calling for an independent autopsy and a bill by the state to ensure that families are notified of the death of a relative in a timely manner.
“Today and forever I will always be her voice,” her mother said at the rally. “I will always stand strong for her.”
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