Lauren Smith-Fields' Family Suing Connecticut Police Over Her Mysterious Death

The 23-year-old was found dead after a Bumble date with an older white man.

The family of Lauren Smith-Fields, a 23-year-old woman who was found mysteriously dead in her bed after a first date, is suing the Bridgeport, Connecticut police department, claiming it mishandled the investigation into her death.

Smith-Fields, who is Black, died in December, following a Bumble date with a white man named Matthew LaFountain. LaFountain woke up next to Smith-Fields the morning following their date and called the police when he found her unresponsive, with blood coming out of her nose. He told police he observed some odd behavior during their date, including Smith-Fields going into the bathroom to vomit and going outside her apartment for several minutes to see her brother. LaFountain later told an officer “he thought it was odd, but didn’t feel it was his place to say anything as he didn’t know her that well,” according to the police report obtained by Rolling Stone.

Despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding the young woman’s death, Bridgeport police failed to detain or question LaFountain, who was the last person to see Smith-Fields alive. The department also waited a month to launch an investigation after escalating social media pressure.

Smith-Fields' family claims there are inconsistencies in the police report, including the 23-year-old's alleged state of drunkenness when she went outside to see her brother Lakeem Jetter. Jetter claims Smith-Fields' did not appear drunk to him. Rolling Stone reports that Jetter told police that when he called Smith-Fields to bring out his basket of clothes he was picking up, " didn’t know that anybody was in there. She came out and she was out there for like 10-15 minutes and she walked back into the house. She looked normal. She didn’t look sick, she didn’t look tired, she didn’t look drunk. I’m her second older brother, if I would have seen her drunk I would’ve said ‘What are you doing?’ … ‘Why do you look like that?’”

The young woman's family is also claiming police mishandled the investigation into her death, including leaving key items — like the cups she and LaFountain had been drinking out of, and a bottle of pills found near her bed — from her apartment unexamined.  “The first night we saw cups there, flipped plates and the lube. The cops didn’t take any of the cups to test the liquor,” Jetter told Rolling Stone. “There was a big stain of blood in the middle of her bed, with streaks going to the right side.”

The family also claims Bridgeport police treated them rudely when they pushed for answers. “In the beginning of this nightmare our family was extremely mistreated by The Bridgeport Police Department who as we stated initially declined to investigate Lauren’s untimely death,” the family wrote on the GoFundMe page, which they set up to raise funds to hire a private investigator to look into Smith-Fields' death. “Although BDP has now decided to begin to conduct an investigation, our family would like to conduct one of our own!”

Many are taking to TikTok to criticize the lack of media coverage and public attention on Smith-Fields' death, comparing it to the attention Gabby Petito, a white woman, received when she went missing in September. #JusticeForLaurenSmithFields has been trending on the app since her death. “It’s happening all too often with Black girls missing across this world, across this country, and no one says anything,” said Darnell Crosland, the family’s attorney. “When a white woman goes missing, the whole world drops everything. We are done with this valuation.”

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