The Death of Lauren Smith-Fields
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
Lauren Smith-Fields was a 23-year-old Black woman from Bridgeport, Connecticut. She was a student at Norwalk Community College who loved beauty, travel, and social media, and dreamt of becoming a physical therapist. Lauren was a healthy, intelligent, and beautiful young woman with a promising life ahead of her; however, she was tragically found dead in her apartment on December 12, 2021.
The Odd Circumstances Surrounding Lauren’s Death
On the night prior to being found deceased, Lauren went on a date with a 37-year-old white man who she met on the dating site, Bumble. The two had only known each other for three days, and Lauren invited him to her apartment for their first date. According to the man, they drank tequila, ate food, played games, and watched a movie, during which Lauren fell asleep on the couch. He told police that he carried Lauren to her bed and fell asleep next to her. The next morning at 6:30 A.M, he noticed that she wasn’t breathing and had blood in her right nostril, so he called the police and performed chest compressions with the guidance of a 911 operator on the phone. However, Lauren was pronounced dead on the scene. Currently, the man is not facing any charges.
The Police Mishandling of Lauren’s Case
Despite being pronounced dead on the scene by authorities on the morning of December 12th, Lauren’s family did not find out about her death until the following day. Lauren’s mother, Shantell Fields, was incredibly worried that she had not heard from her daughter all day, so she went to search Lauren’s apartment on the evening of December 13th. Much to her surprise, she found a note on Lauren’s door that read “If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number.” After contacting the number, Ms Fields was approached by her daughter’s landlord who informed her of Lauren’s passing and provided her with a detective’s phone number. The detective who spoke with Lauren’s mother provided her with very little details and weeks passed without her family finding out any new information.
Lauren’s family was appalled by the police department’s failure to properly notify them of her death and their overall lack of communication. To make matters worse, the police would not listen to the family’s demands to collect evidence from the apartment and conduct a full criminal investigation. When Lauren’s family requested information about Lauren’s Bumble date, the police told them that “he was a really nice guy” and would not confirm if he was questioned or considered a person of interest.
Unfortunately, Lauren’s case is only one of the many incidents involving Black people that the Bridgeport Police Department has mishandled.
Justice for Lauren
On January 23, 2022, which would have been Lauren’s 24th birthday, her loved ones, community members, and activists gathered in her honor and marched to the Bridgeport Mayor’s office to demand that action be taken. In response, the mayor, Joseph Ganim, reiterated that Lauren’s death was being investigated by the Office of Internal Affairs.
Fortunately, Lauren’s case gained considerable attention on social media. Her story went viral on TikTok, with users voicing the need for Lauren’s case to be taken seriously. Many pointed out how Black women’s disappearances and deaths are taken less seriously by the public than those of white women. In addition, famous rappers, Cardi B and BIA, used their platforms to draw attention to Lauren’s case and criticize law enforcement and media outlets for their disregard for violence against Black women.
Lauren’s Mysterious Cause of Death Revealed
After weeks of activism and the march on Lauren’s birthday, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner finally released her cause of death, which was an accidental overdose. The toxicology report revealed that Lauren had a strange mixture of fentanyl, antihistamines that can be used as sedatives, and alcohol in her system. According to Lauren’s family, she had absolutely no history of drug abuse, and they are extremely shocked and confused by her cause of death.
A day after the medical examiner’s findings were revealed, the Bridgeport Police Department finally opened a criminal investigation.
Black Women Deserve Better
It should not take public outcry, celebrity attention, and protests to make law enforcement open a criminal investigation into the suspicious death of a Black woman. Black women’s safety deserves to be prioritized and taken seriously by police, the media, and the general public. Lauren Smith-Fields deserves justice, and her family deserves answers.
Written by Valerie Leija