An Internal Investigation Is Underway Into the Handling of Lauren Smith-Fields' Death

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Jan. 19 2022, Published 5:19 p.m. ET

Another day, another Black woman found mysteriously dead. Social media was rocked to the core upon the news of Bridgeport, Conn., woman Lauren Smith-Fields' untimely passing in December 2021. The 23-year-old was reportedly found dead in her apartment and her family was not immediately notified.

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As details about Lauren’s last steps before her death started to come to light, social media users became convinced that foul play was involved. Not to mention, after a white man was linked to Lauren — via the Bumble dating app — users became even more convinced that something sinister is at play.

And now, Joe Ganim, Bridgeport's mayor, has announced an internal investigation.

So, what was Lauren Smith-Fields' cause of death? Why is there an investigation underway, and what exactly happened to Lauren?

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Lauren Smith-Fields' cause of death has been ruled accidental, but social media users are not convinced.

Prayers up! As more social media users are becoming aware of Lauren’s passing, more questions are being discussed online. And the looming question has been about her cause of death.

On Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, the Connecticut state medical examiner revealed that Lauren passed away from a lethal combination of fentanyl and alcohol, per Hollywood Unlocked.

This new development comes after many people were frustrated and confused that Lauren's cause of death hadn't yet been revealed, since Lauren reportedly passed away on Dec. 12, 2021. NBC Connecticut had reached out to the medical examiner in mid-January and been told the cause of death was still "pending further studies."

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Joe Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., announced an internal investigation into the police's handling of Lauren Smith-Fields' death.

Since the devastating news of Lauren's death, her family and social media users have publicly slammed Bridgeport Police for how they've handled the case. And now, the mayor of Bridgeport, Joe Ganim, is taking action. Hollywood Unlocked shares that Mayor Ganim announced that there will be an internal investigation into how the police handled Lauren Smith-Fields' death.

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“There is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss,” Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement. “To that end, this matter has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.”

Mayor Ganim also went on to share his condolences with Lauren's family and loved ones: "I would like to restate the city’s condolences to the family and friends of Lauren Smith-Fields, and to the many caring individuals who have reached out seeking answers for Lauren. I recognize that the family and the community is experiencing a lot of pain because of the loss of a young woman in addition to unanswered questions and concerns about the way the matter has been handled."

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Lauren Smith-Fields' family has maintained that law enforcement have not been cooperative with them.

Lauren’s family says they found out about her passing after going to her apartment after not hearing from her. Upon arrival, they discovered that Lauren was nowhere to be found. There was a note on her door that read: “If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number.”

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The number belonged to Lauren’s landlord, who later told Lauren's mom, Shantell Fields, and her brother that she had passed away. The family called law enforcement and spoke with a detective who failed to provide any information. It wasn’t until later on that Bridgeport Police confirmed the news.

Lauren's family and social media users were stunned to learn that Matthew LaFountain, a man she met off the dating app Bumble, was the person to call 911 and the last person to see her alive.

According to a Bridgeport Police Department report obtained by Rolling Stone, Lauren had been drinking tequila with Matthew at her apartment after the pair had matched on the app.

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The man told police the following: The two took tequila shots, and Lauren became ill and threw up in the bathroom at one point. They continued to drink and played some games, ate, and watched a movie before Lauren got a text and went outside briefly to get something from her brother. When she came back, she went to the bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes. They finished the bottle of tequila while continuing to watch the movie and she fell asleep on the couch; he then carried her to her bed and they went to sleep. When he woke up early the next morning, Lauren was lying on her right side and bleeding from her right nostril and not breathing, and he called 911.

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The family says that the police ignored other evidence, however, including a used condom in the wastebasket, lubricant, bloody bed sheets, flipped plates, and an unidentified pill in the apartment. Her brother says there was a big blood stain in the middle of the bed with streaks going down the right side.

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Her brother also says that he called her (not texted her) that night, and she came out to give him a basket of clothes — and she didn't appear drunk or sick. (The police report said she was intoxicated when she went outside to meet her brother.)

Naturally, Lauren’s family inquired about officers speaking to him, but they brushed it off.

“When I asked the officer about the guy, he said he was a very nice guy and they weren't looking into him anymore," Lakeem Jetter, one of Lauren’s brothers, told NBC Connecticut in mid-January. "It was almost like he was sticking up for him and it seemed weird to hear that from a detective."

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Keep in mind, Matthew is white. So, that fact has led many social media users to believe that police are not giving this case the attention it deserves. Making matters worse, the family says that once they inquired about the status of the case, law enforcement gave them the cold shoulder.

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"He told me directly on the phone to stop calling him and hung up in my face, it was just like total disrespect, like that's what you tell a family that's going through grief and trying to find answers?" Lakeem told the outlet.

"The way they talked to me, the way they have talked to the family, how they treated my daughter, they treated her like she was nobody, like she was not important," Shantell shared.

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The family and social media users now feel that Lauren’s case is not a priority simply because she's a Black woman.

"We have seen the amount of resources that have gone to other cases involving missing white women like Gabby Petito and we know so many Black women are missing so much in this country," the family's attorney Darnell Crosland told the outlet. "Everyone is speaking out, everyone is insulted with the way the Bridgeport police and the Bridgeport city has dealt with us."

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As a result, Crosland called for an independent investigation by a state or federal agency. At the time, Bridgeport Police released a statement stating that they were currently investigating the case and had given their condolences to the family.

Now that Mayor Ganim has announced the internal investigation, there is a chance for the family to get concrete answers.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lauren’s family at this time. We hope and pray justice will be served. Rest in peace, Lauren Smith-Fields.

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