After the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut finally determined the cause of death in the case of Lauren Smith-Fields, the Black woman who died mysteriously after a date with an older white man, 37-year-old Matthew LaFountain, Smith-Fields’ family is far from finished fighting for truth and justice.
For perfectly understandable reasons—including the alleged indifference on the part of the Bridgeport police investigators who handled the case—the family of the 23-year-old is just not very trusting of Bridgeport law enforcement officials.
“We’re going to get the word out on my daughter, Lauren Smith-Fields because her life did matter. Her voice was silenced,” Shantell Fields, Lauren’s mother, told Insider days after a protest on what would have been her daughter’s 24th birthday. “Justice For Lauren. I’m going to be her voice. Her father, her brothers, her whole entire family…we are all going to be her voice. We’re going to work diligently to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on and how they’re treating Black people, Black women, and Black men in Bridgeport, Connecticut.”
As we previously reported, Smith-Field’s family members feel that investigators failed to question LaFountain as a suspect because he “was a nice guy.”
“It seems like they’re trying to erase her and they’re trying to let this Caucasian man just walk away scot-free,” Fields said. “If the shoe was on the other foot and my daughter was found with a Caucasian man dead inside his apartment, she would be in jail right now. We would be trying to raise bond just to get her out.”
Meanwhile, because Smith-Field was determined to have died due to “an overdose of fentanyl combined with prescription medication and alcohol,” Bridgeport Police announced Tuesday that it is launching a criminal investigation into her death.
“As a result of the OCME’s report, the Bridgeport Police Narcotics and Vice Division have opened a criminal investigation,” Bridgeport Police Captain Kevin Gilleran said in the statement provided to Insider. “They will be assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Detective Bureau’s investigation will remain open as intelligence transitions to the Narcotics and Vice Division. The Bridgeport Police Department’s thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields.”
But Fields isn’t impressed by the department’s sudden interest in the case as she told Insider, “I think this right here is just something to shut us up. They’re actually not going to do anything about it.”
The family’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, shared some of Fields’ skepticism, but he also expressed a little cautious optimism saying he hopes the investigation will lead to LaFountain being treated as “a person of interest.”
“We feel like the police department has failed us because they didn’t handle this investigation in the proper manner when it started,” he said. “We’ll accept it because there have been so many dark days between the time Lauren died and today. So, we’ll take any type of sunshine. We want to know what that investigation is going to consist of and we’re hoping it’s…an actual investigation.”
Crosland also said he and the family aren’t taking the OCME report at face value.
“We have to work on our own because we have no confidence in the Bridgeport Police Department,” he said. “So, we have our own independent autopsy on the way. We have our own investigative team on the way.”
Cardi tweeted about the case to her 21.5 million followers.
Crosland said he and the family have praised Cardi because she “was instrumental in getting Lauren’s tragic death to become a criminal case, because police launched their investigation only after Cardi spoke out,” TMZ reported.