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The family of Lauren Smith-Fields—the Black woman who died mysteriously after a date with an older white man, 37-year-old Matthew LaFountain—has finally gotten answers as to the cause of Smith-Field’s death, but it doesn’t change the way they were allegedly treated by the Bridgeport Police Department while they were mourning the loss of their immediate family member and desperately seeking answers.
It also doesn’t mean they’re fully confident in the coroner’s ruling.
According to NBC Connecticut, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined that Smith-Fields died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol,” and her death has officially been ruled an accident.
Now, people who don’t know what it’s like to be treated by law enforcement like their lives don’t matter will think this revelation should cancel any notion of misconduct on the part of the police investigators, but the lawyer for Lauren Smith-Fields’ relatives believes that more exhaustive investigation is needed.
Morevoer, he’s still urging authorities to take a closer look at the last man to see her alive.
“This looks further like a manslaughter,” the family’s lawyer, Darnell Crosland who previously announced that the family would be filing a lawsuit told WTNH.
“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.”
Attorney Crosland is not wrong and it looks like police are finally listening.
NBC reports that Bridgeport, Connecticut police have opened a criminal investigation into Lauren Smith-Fields’ death as result of the medical examiner’s report. The investigation will be led by the Police Narcotics and Vice Division and they will be assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, authorities confirmed in a statement.
“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 to her untimely death. We have engaged several partners to assist with this portion of the investigation. Once again, we offer our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Lauren Smith-Fields and ask that anyone with information to please contact 203 576-TIPS,” Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said in the statement.“
Additionally, attorney Darnell Crosland told NBC that the family is still awaiting the results of an independent autopsy and that the medical examiner’s findings don’t cure the police department’s “lack of process,” but make it worse.
If the police had “better investigated the scene and the man Smith-Fields was with”, he said, the family would have more answers, he told the news organization.
Earlier this month, NBC published the full letter Lauren Smith-Fields’ family sent city leaders that seems like it was completely ignored until now.
Here’s part of that letter:
On Monday December 13th my family began to call and text our beloved Daughter, Sister, Niece, and Friend Lauren Smith-Fields continuously with no prevail. With Lauren being such the family oriented young woman that she was we knew this was completely out of character for her not to respond. Around approximately 8:00pm, Lauren’s Mother Shantell and Brother Lakeem decided to go to Laurens home at 33 Plymouth Street. Upon their arrival they were met with a note on the door stating “If you’re looking for Lauren call this number”. Completely confused and frightened Lauren’s Mother and Brother contacted Laurens landlord Hector. Hector then informed them that “Something bad happened” and that Lauren was indeed deceased. Hector then proceeded to give them a card with Detective Cronin’s phone number on it. Lauren’s brother Lakeem then called Dt. Cronin.
When Dt. Cronin spoke with Lauren’s brother Lakeem, he told him that Lauren was indeed expired and her body had been removed from the scene. He told Mr. Jetter that Lauren met a man later identified as Mr. Matthew Lafountain on a dating website called Bumble for the first time. He explained that Mr. LaFountain came to visit Lauren and she seemed to be feeling ill. He went further into detail and told Mr. Jetter that Mr. Lafountain stated Lauren went to meet Mr. Jetter at 9:30pm and stayed outside for a few minutes, came back, and began to vomit uncontrollably. Dt. Cronin then told Lauren’s brother that Mr. Lafountain also stated that he carried her into her bed, and laid with her checking on her twice, once at 3:00am and the next at 6:30am when he noticed she was bleeding out of her nose and mouth. Lakeem then asked Dt. Cronin “Are you investigating this?” He responded to Lakeem and said “I don’t think there is anything to investigate, he seems like a really great guy. I was here when the medical examiner investigated and there are no signs of foul play and they were both fully dressed”. Dt. Cronin then stated that he would be willing to come to the scene at 33 Plymouth Street and speak with them and they agreed. They continued to wait in front of the home upset, grieving, and confused for 45 minutes to be unmet with Dt. Cronin or anyone from the Bridgeport Police Department. Mr. Jetter and Ms. Fields then left the scene of the incident and gave Dt. Cronin’s phone number to Lauren’s father Everett Smith. Mr. Smith then called Dt. Cronin to clarify then information given earlier to Lauren’s brother Lakeem. When Mr. Smith called Dt. Cronin he was met with a response that said “I already talked to your ex wife, and you can talk to her”. Mr. Smith then stated that he had his own questions that he wanted to ask Dt. Cronin that were not previously asked. Dt. Cronin then said it was late, he was off work, and could not continue to communicate. Upset and feeling like they were not being heard, Mr. Jetter called Dt. Cronin again for Dt. Cronin to answer and say “Why do you keep calling me, I told you everything I know” and continued to hang up in his face.
No one deserves that kind of treatment, and Black people know this treatment all too well.
We’ll keep you updated on Lauren Smith-Fields’ case as things continue to develop.