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Death of Lauren Smith-Fields ruled an accident by state, Bridgeport police open criminal investigation

Connecticut’s chief medical examiner’s office says the death of a Black woman whose family has accused Bridgeport police of a lack of responsiveness was caused by drugs and alcohol. The office ruled the death an accident, but its determination prompted Bridgeport police to open a criminal investigation.

The medical examiner says that 23-year-old Lauren Smith-Fields died accidentally on Dec. 12 from “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine and alcohol.” No criminal charges have been filed.

But on Tuesday, Bridgeport police said they had opened a criminal investigation.

“Fentanyl is a strong narcotic associated with an epidemic of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States. The City of Bridgeport is not immune to this epidemic,” police said in a statement. “As a result of the OCME’s report, the Bridgeport Police Narcotics and Vice Division have opened a criminal investigation under N.V. Case No. 22N-015. They will be assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”

The department said its “thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields.”

The cause of death finding comes after Smith-Fields’ family staged a protest in front of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s office over lack of police response.

Smith-Fields’ family says police never notified them of her death and haven’t explained why a man who called authorities to report finding her unresponsive is not a suspect.

The family has not yet returned Connecticut Public’s request for comment.

This report contains information from The Associated Press.

Updated: January 25, 2022 at 4:21 PM EST
This story has been updated.
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