US police launch investigation weeks after Lauren Smith-Fields died while on Bumble date

Lauren Smith-Fields died while on a date with a man she met online (Justice For Lauren/GoFundme)
Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, died while on a date with a man she met online Credit: Justice For Lauren/GoFundme

Police in the US have a begun a criminal investigation six weeks after a 23-year-old woman died while she was on a date with a man she met on dating app Bumble.

Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on December 12, after the man she was with called police to say he awoke to find her unresponsive.

Her death has been ruled an accident by the state chief medical examiner’s office.

Ms Smith-Fields' family claimed authorities did not give her death enough attention because she was black.

They claimed a detective eventually asked them to stop calling.

Shantell Fields, Lauren Smith-Fields' mother, and family members during a protest in front of the Morton Government Center, in Bridgeport Credit: Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP

They are planning to sue the police of failing to properly investigate, the family's attorney, Darnell Crosland said.

And they said police never notified them of her death. Instead, family members found out more than a day later through a note left on her apartment door by her landlord.

“The police department has been racially insensitive to this family and has treated this family with no respect and has violated their civil rights,” Mr Crosland wrote in the intent to sue notice.

Family and friends of Lauren Smith-Fields at a protest in Bridgeport, Connecticut Credit: Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP

Bridgeport police said on Tuesday its narcotics and vice division, with help from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, is investigating to see if any crimes were committed.

“We are now refocusing our attention and efforts to the factors that (led) to her untimely death,” acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said.

Mayor Joe Ganim said on Monday the police department’s internal affairs office is investigating its response to Ms Smith-Fields’ death and he is working with police to change practices.

He said: “Sensitivity and care is of utmost importance when working with the family of a victim. There is no tolerance for anything less than respect and sensitivity for family members and their loss.”

A protest march in Lauren Smith-Fields' memory in Bridgeport, Connecticut Credit: Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP

The medical examiner’s office said on Monday that Ms Smith-Fields died from “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine and alcohol” and her death was accidental.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid. Promethazine and hydroxyzine are antihistamines used to treat allergies.

The family's lawyer Mr Crosland on Twitter questioned the finding that Ms Smith-Fields’ death was an accident.

He wrote: "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. Lauren didn’t use drugs."

Dr James Gill, the chief medical examiner, said on Tuesday he could not discuss specifics of the case because his office is only allowed to release information on death certificates.