What happened to Lauren Smith-Fields? Family demands justice after 23-year-old found dead after date

The family says they believe race played a role in the investigation and intend to sue the Bridgeport Police Department.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022
Family of Lauren Smith-Fields continues fight for justice
Last month, Lauren Smith-Fields was found unresponsive in her apartment after spending time with a man she met on a dating app.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A grieving family continues to demand answers from authorities in the death of Lauren Smith-Fields, a 23-year-old Black woman who was found dead after a date with a white man she met on a dating app.

Her family said they intend to sue city and police officials in Bridgeport, Connecticut, alleging they have failed to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding Smith-Fields' mysterious death in December.

"I just could not believe that my baby sister was gone," brother Lakeem Jetter told ABC News. "Somebody who I love, somebody who I've protected, somebody I've been around my whole entire life, I literally held her when she was born."

According to the police report, authorities arrived at her apartment on Dec. 12 to find "a young adult Black female lying on her back, on the floor" and "did not appear to be breathing."

The report added that a man who claimed to have met Smith-Fields on a dating app was the one who called the police.

The man, who ABC News is not identifying, said he had only known Smith-Fields for three days. He said he visited her apartment for the first time the night before her death and claimed that she fell ill.

The next morning, he said he noticed the 23-year-old's nose was bleeding and that she was not breathing, so he dialed 911.

The family said the man was the last known person to see Smith-Fields alive. Police said they do not suspect foul play and have not named him as a person of interest.

Darnell Crosland, the family's attorney, said that one month later, no developments have been announced in this case.

'We want all of the people of Bridgeport to be treated fairly and equally under the law. That didn't happen here, and anyone listening to this story needs to know that Lauren Smith-Fields wasn't given the treatment that she should have been given," Crosland said.

"We are going to sue them because they are violating our rights," he added.

In their notice of claim to file a lawsuit, the family alleged that "the Bridgeport Police Department failed to implement the proper CSI (crime scene investigation) team to collect physical evidence" and that "the city has failed to intervene."

The family also said that they believe race has played a role in the investigation, claiming that police were "racially insensitive" toward them, treating them with "no respect" as they grieve and search for answers. The police department said that the investigation is ongoing and that they're waiting for a toxicology report.

On Sunday, what would have been Smith-Fields' 24th birthday, the family has planned a march to celebrate her life and demand justice.

"We're going to march. We're going to chant her name. We're going to wish her a happy birthday. We're going to let balloons go," Jetter said.

Demonstration organizers also have a powerful message that they want to share with the world.

"It's not just about Lauren. It's about every girl that could potentially go through something like this," Jetter said. "We don't ever want this to happen to anybody. We don't want nobody to feel this pain."