Sunday was Lauren Smith-Fields’s 24th birthday. She should have been celebrating with her girls at brunch, but instead the social media influencer’s family held a rally in her honor. On December 12, 2021, Lauren was found dead in her Bridgeport, Connecticut apartment, yet police did not notify her family of her death—instead they found out after visiting Lauren’s home and discovering a note from her landlord.
“When I got there,” said Lauren’s mother, Shantell Fields, to CBS News, “There was a note on the door saying, ‘If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number.'” When Lauren’s family finally learned of her death from a detective, almost two days had gone by since she passed.
The detective told the family the rationale behind not contacting them was that the authorities “didn’t need to,” shared Tavar Gray-Smith, Lauren’s brother, to CBS Mornings. Tavar continued recalling the detective’s words: “We had her passport and her ID, so we knew who she was, and had already performed an autopsy and her body is at the medical examiner’s office.” Tavar also mentioned that the call with the detective was cut short after he hung up on Tavar and his father.
On Monday, the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Lauren’s death “an accident” and attributed it to “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, (prescription drugs) and alcohol,” according to the autopsy report. The prescription drugs found in Lauren’s system were promethazine and hydroxyzine, which are commonly used for sedative purposes.
The last person to see Lauren alive was her Bumble date, who reported her death to the police. According to a police report obtained by local news station WTNH, Lauren’s date said when he woke up in the morning next to her, “She was not breathing” and there was “blood was coming out of her right nostril.” He called 911. According to WTNH, the officer who reported to the scene said the man was “trembling and visibly shaken” and looked “frantic.”
Even so, the police have refused to question Lauren’s date, according to a notice of claim to sue filed by Darnell Crosland, the family’s lawyer. “When we asked (the detective) about this guy, (he said), ‘He was a nice guy, there was no need to investigate,’” said Lauren’s father to WTNH. The claim filed also says that police missed what seemed to be significant details in Lauren’s home, such as a sedative pill, bloodied sheets, and a used condom. This potential evidence wasn’t processed on the scene until two-and-a-half weeks after Lauren’s death, explained Darnell to CBS News.
A statement from the Connecticut forensic science laboratory suggested they had yet to receive the elements. Based on reports from CBS News, a spokesperson from the lab said, “The State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protections, Division of Scientific Services to this point has not received any submissions of evidence in relation to the death of Lauren Smith-Fields.”
Much like other cases involving the seeming lack of truth around a Black woman’s death, such as Breonna Taylor or Sandra Bland, the case has sparked national outrage and outcry—even Cardi B has been consistently vocal on the issue. Now, after many weeks of receiving ongoing, national criticism for how they’ve vastly mishandled investigating the circumstances around Lauren’s death, Connecticut authorities have opened a criminal investigation to finally look in to it.
In a statement to WTNH, the Bridgeport Police Department said:
“The Bridgeport Police Department takes these concerns very seriously. The Command Staff of the Detective Bureau is reviewing the handling of this case to ensure that best practices were and are being followed. It is imperative to note that the death of Lauren Smith-Fields remains an ongoing investigation. Our department extends its deepest condolences to the family of Lauren.”
Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd posted a statement on Instagram extending her “full support to Lauren’s family.” The statement reads:
A post shared by Bumble (@bumble)
Check back for updates on this story as it develops.
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