The Bridgeport, Connecticut police department has opened a criminal investigation into the death of Lauren Smith-Fields, the 23-year-old woman who died in mid-December. On Monday, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled her death to be accidental by way of acute intoxication, due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol. Because fentanyl was found in her system, Bridgeport PD opened the investigation, the announced Tuesday, which will be conducted by the Narcotics and Vice Division with assistance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“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,” the chief of police, Rebeca Garcia, said in a statement.
On Dec. 12, following a Bumble date at her apartment, Smith-Fields was found unresponsive by her date, a white man named Matthew Lafountain. Lafountain called police, reporting that Smith-Fields was unresponsive and had been bleeding from her nose. Smith-Field’s family — who learned of her death days later, after finding a note from the landlord on the door — say they found a used condom with semen and an unidentified pill in her apartment. (Lafountain was not charged with any crimes, and is not considered a suspect in the case. Rolling Stone has been unable to reach him for comment.)
Smith-Fields’ family has described communication with detectives as unprofessional and scarce. “How they spoke to us was disgusting,” said Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields’ mother, who accused them of “hanging up the phone and telling us to stop calling.”
On Jan. 21, Smith-Fields’ family’s lawyer Darnell Crosland issued an intent to sue the Bridgeport police department. “After my client’ s family forced the BPD to collect the pill found in the apartment, the condom, and the bloody sheet, as of today, those items have not been submitted to the State Laboratory for forensic analysis,” wrote Crosland. He went on to say that an officer had been removed from the case and “is now under investigation by the Bridgeport Internal of Affairs Division.” Crosland did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.
The Mayor of Bridgeport, Joe Ganim, also issued a statement offering the family condolences, saying that he contacted the State Medical Examiner to expedite the matter so an investigation can continue and detectives could provide a report to the family.
“I share concerns echoed by many about the amount of time and manner a family is informed of a loss,” wrote Ganim. “ Death notifications should be done in a manner that illustrates dignity for the deceased and respect and compassion for the family. Therefore, I will work with the Chief of Police to make appropriate changes here in Bridgeport – now – for our department’s policies and practices regarding notifying family members of a death. I support and add my voice to the family, community, and elected officials who are calling for state legislation on this issue.”