Nearly two months after Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was found dead in her apartment after meeting a Bumble date, police launched a criminal investigation into how she died.
Bridgeport police announced a criminal investigation the morning of Jan. 25, hours after the chief state medical examiner ruled Smith-Fields’ death an accidental overdose caused by acute intoxication from a combination of fentanyl and prescription drugs as well as alcohol.
The latest developments in what happened to Smith-Fields comes on the heels of her family notifying the City of Bridgeport it intends to sue over the police handling of her death investigation.
“When we talk about police accountability, we’re not just talking about stopping them from killing us, but also valuing us,” said Darnell Crosland, the attorney who’s representing the Smith-Fields family.
Crosland and Smith-Fields’ family are demanding answers from police into why it took months to determine how she died. They also claim a police cover-up is in the works.
On December 12, 2021, when Smith-Field was found dead in her apartment, she wasn’t alone, Crosland says Matthew LaFountain, who’s white, was in her apartment the night she died.
Smith-Fields and LaFountain met on the dating app, Bumble. Crosland alleges a cover-up is in the works because he says the police detective who first arrived at the scene was a Bridgeport police detective who knew LaFountain personally.
“Detective Cronin has been placed on some type of administrative leave and he’s under investigation with internal affairs. They’ve been tight lipped about his involvement, but we’ve been finding out on social media that LaFountain, the individual who was with Lauren, has a huge connection with the police department and his family does as well,” Crosland said.
Atlanta Black Star could not independently confirm Cronin’s status, but within the notice of claim, Crosland says, “[Cronin] has intentionally or negligently created a cover-up for the responsible party in Lauren’s death,” stopping short of blaming LaFountain for Smith-Fields’ sudden death.
According to the police report, the night Smith-Fields and LaFountain met at her apartment, she asked him to bring a bottle of tequila and they drank shots until she fell ill.
LaFountain told police, after vomiting, they had more tequila with mixers, ate food and watched a movie. Smith-Fields eventually fell asleep and LaFountain took her to bed where they both slept. The next morning, LaFountain says he noted blood coming from her nose and she wasn’t breathing, which is when he called 911, according to police.
Crosland says police should have done more to thoroughly investigate Smith-Fields’ apartment in the immediate hours of her death. He claims in his pending lawsuit that it took police two weeks to collect all the evidence from the apartment. “If these are professionals, they should have been in the bathroom looking for that stuff, they should have been looking under the bed for a condom, they should have been using a blue light looking for semen, they did nothing,” Crosland said.
Crosland also accused Bridgeport police of being racially insensitive, criticizing the time it’s taken to move the case along. “If he was Black and she was white, a white 23-year-old female is dead with blood and a condom in the bathroom, oh boy, we’d still be at the police station right now,” he said.
No arrests have been made in Smith-Fields’ death at the time of this report.
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