Connecticut PD Opens Criminal Probe of Lauren Smith-Fields' Death After Family Says Cops Were Racially Biased

Lauren Smith-Fields
Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in December. Lauren Smith-Fields/Facebook

Lauren Smith-Fields, who is Black, was found dead last month after an at-home date with man she met online, authorities said. A medical examiner has ruled her death was an accidental overdose.

A criminal investigation into the December death of Lauren Smith-Fields was announced Tuesday after intense criticism from the Black woman's family who claim the handling of her case had been "racially insensitive."

The 23-year-old Connecticut woman had invited a man to her Bridgeport apartment after they spoke via the dating app Bumble, authorities said. The man called 911 on Dec. 12 to say he had awakened to find her unresponsive with blood around her nose, according to a police incident report.

There have been no arrests in the case. 

Family attorney Darnell Crosland filed a claim notice on Friday, notifying the city of his intent to sue over the department's alleged "racially insensitive" handling of the case.

On Monday, Connecticut’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the woman's death was accidental and resulted from "acute intoxication" of alcohol and prescription drugs including fentanyl. The same day, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim issued a statement saying, "there is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss."

The mayor also said the case had been referred to "the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation."

The police department's Tuesday statement said that, as a result of the coroner's report, the department's Narcotics and Vice Division had opened an investigation that would be aided by members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Several requests from Inside Edition Digital for comment on the case were not responded to by the Bridgeport Police Department. The family's attorney told Inside Edition Digital the woman's relatives "think that their healthy daughter had an interaction with a gentleman we know nothing about, and then ended up dead."

Smith-Fields had no history of drug use, he said.

Police have publicly said little about Smith-Fields' death, except to acknowledge it was under investigation. According to a police incident report filed after her death, officers responded to the Dec. 12 emergency call to find a "frantic" man in her apartment, trying to revive the unresponsive woman.

According to the man, who has not been identified or charged in connection with the case, he had come to her apartment the night before for his first date with Smith-Fields after they had spoken on the dating app and on Instagram. The two had consumed tequila shots, the report said, and then switched to mixed drinks after Smith-Fields vomited. 

The man said they had eaten food, played games and were watching a movie when Smith-Fields fell asleep on the couch, the report said. The man told investigators he carried her to bed and fell asleep next to her, according to the report. When he woke very early in the morning to use the bathroom, Smith-Fields was snoring, the report said.

A few hours later, he woke again to find the woman lying on her right side with blood in her nostril and he called for help, the report said.

The police did not notify Smith-Fields' family of her death, their attorney said. Relatives found out after going to her apartment when she failed to answer calls and texts, only to find a note from the landlord on her front door, the lawyer said. 

The landlord told them Smith-Fields had died and police had been to the home, according to the family's lawyer.

Attorney Crosland said the family was rebuffed and treated rudely when they contacted investigators. One officer told them to stop calling him, Crosland said. 

"When Black women go missing, or something happens, nothing gets done," he said. Her family, in a series of interviews and at recent rallies, has accused the police department of ignoring her death.

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