Lauren Smith-Fields' Mother Speaks Out on 'Misconception' Surrounding Her Daughter's Death
The mother of Lauren Smith-Fields is speaking out and addressing what she says is the "biggest misconception" surrounding her daughter's untimely death, which sparked outrage over accusations that investigators mishandled the case from the start.
Shantell Fields and the family attorney, Darnell Crosland, appeared on The Real on Tuesday and opened up about what's happened since Smith-Fields was found dead in her home on Dec. 12, 2021 by a Bridgeport, Connecticut police officer.
There was public outcry after the family said they were not notified about the 23-year-old Black woman's death for nearly two days. Shantell told The New York Times she found out about her daughter's death from her landlord.
Shantell also told CBS News that "when I got there, there was a note on the door saying, 'If you're looking for Lauren, call this number.'" Smith-Fields was found dead after going a date with a white man she had met on the dating app Bumble. According to multiple reports, the man Smith-Fields went on the date with the night prior was the one who called police.
Last week, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut announced Smith-Fields' cause of death was "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol." The manner of death was also ruled accidental.
During her appearance on The Real, however, Shantell disputed the medical examiner's findings.
"The biggest misconception is that my daughter was on drugs," Shantell said. "She was not on drugs. Lauren worked out every day. She was on a plant-based diet. She went to college. She had her own business in her home. There was no drugs. She was not on drugs at all. She had her whole life ahead of her."
Crosland, the attorney, said the family got "some semblance of justice" on Sunday after Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced that the detective who handled the Love-Fields case has been suspended and placed on administrative leave. The suspension comes just days after the police department opened a criminal probe into the death of Smith-Fields, following weeks of criticism that the department mishandled the case.
"The Bridgeport Police Department continues to treat the untimely death of Lauren Smith-Fields as an active investigation as we are now refocusing our attention and efforts to the factors that led to her untimely death," said Bridgeport PD Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will also assist in the investigation.
The Bridgeport Police Department's embroiled in controversy, after the family of another Black woman who died on the same day as Smith-Fields also said they were not notified about her death. The family of Brenda Lee Rawls, 53, says they couldn't locate her after calling cops, hospitals and funeral homes. The family says they finally found her two days later at the medical examiner's office. The family also said they found out which detective was handling Rawls' case and left him four messages, but those messages were not returned. That detective has also been suspended and placed on administrative leave.
The mayor said the two officers are now the subject of a Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) Investigation and disciplinary action "for lack of sensitivity to the public and failure to follow police policy in the handling of these two matters."
A third police officer in charge of overseeing the two cases retired from the department last week.
Cardi B drew attention to the case last week, saying she was disgusted with the narrative she says is being spun by the media. Crosland told TMZ the family was overjoyed that the Grammy-winning rapper used her platform to shed light on the case.
"Cardi was instrumental in getting Lauren's tragic death to become a criminal case," Crosland told the outlet, "because police launched their investigation only after Cardi spoke out."
Nearly two months following Smith-Fields' death, her mother's still trying to make sense of it all.
“On that day my whole world came crashing down around me, knowing that my daughter was found lifeless at her apartment and that person was able to just walk away," she said on The Real. "So, right now I’m just here trying to seek justice for my daughter.”
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