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Family of Woman Who Mysteriously Died While with Man She Met on Dating App is Suing City for Allegedly Mishandling Case

Bridgeport, CT – The family of a 23-year-old Connecticut woman who died under mysterious circumstances is suing the City of Bridgeport, saying they mishandled the investigation. 

On December 12, Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment after a night of drinking with a man she met on the dating app Bumble. More than a month later answers as to how she died still remain a mystery and her cause of death is ‘pending further studies.’

According to the police report, the night before her death, Smith-Field was drinking tequila at her apartment with 37-year-old Matthew LaFountain, a man she had met on Bumble. 

LaFountain claims Smith-Fields became sick to her stomach and went to her bathroom to throw up. He says when she returned from the bathroom they continued to drink tequila mixed drinks. LaFountain said they played games, ate food and were watching a movie when Smith-Field received a text, and went outside to get something from her brother. He said when she returned she went into her bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes. LaFountain later told police he thought it was odd that she stayed in the bathroom for so long but he ‘didn’t feel it was his place to say anything as he didn’t know her that well.’

When she returned from the bathroom, LaFountain said they continued watching the movie while finishing the bottle of tequila. He told police she fell asleep on the couch and he carried her to her bedroom and the two went to bed. According to what LaFountain told police, the two did not have sex that night and he slept with his clothes on.

According to the incident report, at around 6:30am, LaFountain found Smith-Fields lying on her side with blood coming out of her nostril and not breathing. He then called 911. Smith-Fields was pronounced dead by paramedics.

When police arrived at the scene, the landlord of the apartment was contacted. Because the landlord didn’t have any family contact information, the family was not informed of Smith-Fields’ death that night and didn’t find out she had passed away until they visited her apartment days later.

Smith-Fields’ family announced on Sunday that they would be suing the City of Bridgeport. The lawsuit alleges that police failed to investigate her death properly, showed no interest in investigating her date as a suspect and refused to speak to them. 

“We’re suing the city of Bridgeport for failure to prosecute and failure to protect this family under the 14th Amendment,” Attorney Darnell Crosland, who is representing Smith-Fields’ family, told Rolling Stone magazine. 

“It’s happening all too often with black girls missing across this world, across this country, and no one says anything,” the lawyer said. “When a white woman goes missing, the whole world drops everything. We are done with this valuation.” 

He added: “We want an independent investigation by an independent state agency or federal agency to look into this case. We want the DOJ like when they have to step in for cases like a Mike Brown, this family has to continue to deal with the loss of their loved one, work and they shouldn’t have to do that when they are hard-working tax-payers.”

In the suit, the family is alleging that the police report doesn’t match the story of the last relative to see Smith-Fields alive that night.

Lakeem Jetter, Smith-Fields’ brother, said his sister looked normal when he saw her that night. He said he met her in front of her apartment to pick up his basket of clothes from her.

“I 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,” Jetter told Rolling Stones. “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 family is also alleging that police didn’t collect important evidence from the apartment. Shantell Fields, Smith-Fields’ mother, told Yahoo News that she found a condom with semen inside in her daughter’s apartment, along with a pill that the family believes may be a sedative.

Jetter, told Rolling Stone other pieces of evidence appeared uncollected.

“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 the publication. “There was a big stain of blood in the middle of her bed, with streaks going to the right side.”

The family is also criticizing the way police handled the man Smith-Fields was with the night she died. Saying they failed to detain LaFountain for questioning and when they asked police why he was not being detained they were told, “There is nothing to investigate. He seems like a nice guy.”

Bridgeport Police issued a statement to NBC Connecticut:

“On December 12, 2021, the Bridgeport Emergency Operations Center received a call for service regarding an untimely death. Upon police arrival, it was found that Ms. Laruen-Smith-Fields passed away unexpectedly. This incident is currently being investigated by the Bridgeport Police Department’s Detective Bureau. This investigation remains open and active. The Detective Bureau is awaiting the final report from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office for cause and manner of death of Ms. Smith-Fields. The Bridgeport Police Department offers it’s sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields. We encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to contact either Detective-Sergeant Joseph Morales at 203-581-5219 or the Bridgeport Police TIPS line at 203-576-8477.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe to hire a private investigator to look into the death.

“In the beginning of this nightmare out 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. “Although BDP has now decided to begin to conduct an investigation, our family would like to conduct one of our own!”

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