An attorney representing the family of a 23-year-old Connecticut college student who died last month while on a Bumble date hit out at the state medical examiner for ruling her death an accident caused by a fentanyl overdose, before it has been determined who gave her the drugs.
Darnell Crosland argued that Lauren Smith-Fields did not use drugs, and said that her death looked 'more like a manslaughter, if not a murder.' He also called on the authorities to take a closer look at the man she was on a date with when she died, and urged them to follow the drugs.
The Bridgeport Police Department on Tuesday launched a criminal investigation into the incident, a day after the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed that Smith-Fields succumbed to acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol, and ruled her death an accident.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive and potentially deadly synthetic opioid prescribed to treat severe pain, while promethazine and hydroxyzine are allergy medications.
The new probe will try to figure out how and where Smith-Fields procured the deadly drug.
The woman's Bumble date, 37-year-old Matthew LaFountain, a design engineer, has not been charged with any crime in connection with her death. He has remained mum since being questioned by cops.
In a recent interview with News 12 Connecticut, Crosland said: 'go to this gentleman's home, check out where this fentanyl came from, find out who bought the alcohol they were allegedly drinking, find out whether there're any trace evidence of fentanyl and other drugs on the alcohol, or in the alcohol.'
Crosland also challenged the medical examiner's conclusion that Smith-Fields' death was an accident.
'I’ve never seen a medical examiner conclude a mixer of drugs as an accident without knowing who provided the drugs, or how it was ingested,' Crosland tweeted this week. 'Lauren didn’t use drugs.
'The M.E. findings doesn’t cure any of Bridgeport Police Department lack of process, in fact it makes it worse. As a result of a botched investigation this morning we are left with more questions than answers.'
Crosland welcomed the police department's decision to 'finally' investigate Smith-Fields' death, and thanked rapper Cardi B for using her public platform to demand justice for Lauren.
'Connecticut you have failed that young lady!!!' the award-winning artist tweeted, in part, last weekend.
Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, died as a result of acute intoxication caused by a combination of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol, and her death was rule accidental. It is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Narcotics and Vice Division, and the DEA
Darnell Crosland, an attorney representing Smith-Fields' family, claimed that she did not use drugs and urged the police to take a closer look at her Bumble date
The 'older white man' who was on a Bumble date with 23-year-old Connecticut Lauren Smith-Fields before she was found dead after a night of drinking has been revealed as Matthew LaFountain, a 37-year-old design engineer she knew for three days
Lakeem Jetter, Smith-Fields' brother, was the next-to-last person to have seen his sister alive on the night she died, when he arrived at her Bridgeport home to collect a basket of clothes from her.
LaFountain has claimed the brother was there to drop something off with Lauren.
After seeing Jetter, LaFountain told cops Smith-Fields went to the bathroom and stayed there for at least 10 minutes, which he thought was 'odd.'
The woman's family previously expressed anger at the police, accusing them of failing to properly investigate LaFountain, despite his being the last person to see Smith-Fields alive, and even allegedly shielding him from scrutiny because he was a 'nice guy.'
The Bridgeport Police Department announced on Tuesday that its Narcotics and Vice Division will conduct the investigation into the woman's fentanyl-related death, with assistance from the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
'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 lead to her untimely death,' Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said in a statement.
Lakeem Jetter, Smith-Fields' brother, last saw his sister on the night of her death, when he went by her home to collect a basket of clothes. He said she seemed fine to him
LaFountain told police he and Smith-Fields, whom he had known for just three days, spent her last night on December 11 drinking tequila, eating and watching a movie. The following morning, he found her dead on her bloodied sheets and alerted the authorities.
Prior to the release of Smith-Fields' cause and manner of death, her family accused Bridgeport police of showing a lack of responsiveness and racial insensitivity in their handling of the investigation, and signaled their intention to file a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.
On Monday, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim launched an internal investigation into the police department's response to Smith-Fields' death and the agency's interactions with her family.
'There is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss,' Ganim stated. 'To that end, this matter has been referred to the Office of Internal Affairs to conduct a full and fair investigation.'
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim launched an internal investigation into the police department's response to Smith-Fields' death
As of Tuesday, the woman's family have not said whether they plan to carry on with the lawsuit in light of the medical examiner's revelations.
The family have claimed the police took too long to notify them of Smith-Fields' death, and then asked relatives to stop calling the department for updates.
Ganim announced he will be working with the Bridgeport police to update policies and practices concerning family death notifications.
'Death notifications should be done in a manner that illustrates dignity for the deceased and respect and compassion for the family,' he said. 'I support and add my voice to the family, community, and elected officials who are calling for state legislation on this issue.'
Smith-Fields was found dead on December 12 at her apartment in Bridgeport, where she and LaFountain had spent the night drinking.
LaFountain works as a design engineer at Connecticut-based Times Microwave Systems - a company which manufactures cables for the military, aerospace and telecommunications companies. He has not been named by police as a suspect in relation to Smith-Fields' death. Multiple attempts by DailyMail.com to reach LaFountain were unsuccessful.
Smith-Fields, a student at Norwalk Community College, and LaFountain were hanging out and drinking the night before she died, according to a the police report obtained by Dailymail.com. LaFountain claims that at one point during the evening, Smith-Fields became ill and threw up in her bathroom before the two continued drinking tequila mixed drinks.
Her brother, Lakeem Jetter, told Rolling Stone that a large blood stain was found on her bed and he claimed that several other pieces of key evidence, including a used condom, lubricant and an unidentified pill, were ignored by cops.
'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 said. 'There was a big stain of blood in the middle of her bed, with streaks going to the right side.'
Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, speaks during a protest rally in front of the Morton Government Center in Bridgeport on Sunday, which would have been Lauren's 24th birthday
Family and friends of Smith-Fields gathered for a protest march in her memory in Bridgeport, demanding answers from the authorities about policing, race and victims rights
Smith-Fields' family have signaled their intention to sue Bridgeport Police after becoming frustrated with how they are handling the case, attorney Darnell Crosland told Dailymail.com, alleging the detective in charge of her case told them to stop contacting him.
Crosland also said that the detective was uninterested in pursuing Smith-Field's date as a suspect.
DailyMail.com has contacted Bridgeport Police for comment. In a statement issued last month, acting police chief Rebecca Garcia said the department 'takes these concerns very seriously'. Police are still investigating her death and the case is still active.
'They're waiting for the autopsy before questioning anyone,' Crosland told DailyMail.com prior to the medical examiner's announcement on Monday.
'But there are parts of the investigation that can be done without the autopsy. They can obtain the messages from