LAuren Smith-Fields was a beautiful young woman, a former high school track star who was studying to be a physical therapist. She was active on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, posting healthy and glamorous photos and videos of herself. She did not use drugs, say family members, whose grief over her untimely death is as evident as the sense that something is missing from the story of her disappearance on December 12 at the 23 years old. His family doesn’t believe Smith-Fields died of an accidental overdose – as the Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner’s Office has said – and they can’t be blamed for doubting that decision.
Friends and family of Smith-Fields have publicly questioned whether racism could explain why Bridgeport police were allegedly so negligent in their on-scene investigation, saying detectives failed to collect vital evidence, to tell Smith-Fields’ family of her death or rigorously investigate the last person known to have been in her company – the white man she met earlier that evening while on a date with Bumble. It wouldn’t be the first time someone has been drugged on a dating app date — in fact, it’s a serious issue that has been vastly underreported.
Although there have been many stories of people slipping into drugs by their dating site matches dating back years, this dangerous phenomenon has not made its way into the larger narrative of online dating culture. . Just last week, a 43-year-old man in Perth, Australia, was accused of drugging and raping two women in their twenties he met on a sugar daddy dating site, allegedly putting ketamine in their drinks before sexually assaulting them. In 2019, Calgary anesthesiologist Barry Wollach was convicted of raping a woman he met on Bumble, who suspected her of being drugged, feeling “dizzy” after having dinner with him. (Wollach was found guilty of rape although the judge ruled there was not enough evidence to say he also drugged the victim. Wollach denied both charges.)
Common date rape drugs such as Rohypnol are usually odorless, colorless and tasteless, and leave the body quickly, so they are difficult to detect. But cases with medical evidence continually crop up in the news. In 2021, for example, a woman in British Columbia reported feeling so nauseous after a Tinder date that she went to the hospital, where she underwent a drug test which showed MDMA and methamphetamine in her system, substances she had not knowingly ingested.
As of now, there’s no evidence that Smith-Fields was drugged by her date with Bumble, or anyone else. But the lethal mix in his system was potent and strange — the toxicology report showed fentanyl, an opioid; promethazine and hydroxyzine, antihistamines that can be used as sedatives; and alcohol (his date told police he and Smith-Fields drank tequila) – raising questions about why a young woman with no known history of substance abuse would have such a diverse mix of substances in his system.
Smith-Fields’ family lawyer Darnell Crosland told Bridgeport station WTNH: ‘Now to find out that all of these substances are in their daughter’s body that basically took her life, they’re so angry right now. It looks more like manslaughter. On Jan. 25, after weeks of activism by her family and others, and a tweet from Cardi B (which the family credits with raising awareness), Bridgeport police opened a criminal investigation. Whether #justiceforlauren will become a reality remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Bumble released a statement saying, “The physical and emotional safety of our community is of paramount importance. We investigate member complaints and take prompt and decisive action against any member who fails to meet our standards. While Bumble could take “quick and decisive action” in this high-profile case, they weren’t always so quick to come to the aid of users. In 2020, ProPublica reported that the company failed to respond to a user’s complaint of being sexually assaulted and that her alleged abuser’s profile continued to appear on the app. Another worrying issue is the presence of sex offenders on dating apps. In 2020, Bumble and other popular dating services became the focus of a House subcommittee investigation into sex offenders and minors using their services.
It has become increasingly clear that the online dating industry needs regulation and that the controversial Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 needs to be amended. Section 230 grants internet companies immunity from liability for third-party wrongdoing – meaning that even if it were to be proven that someone died after being drugged by a dating app, his family could not sue the company. Such protection from civil lawsuits diminishes the impetus of companies to protect their users.
Smith-Fields’ family is suing the Bridgeport Police Department, which “was racially insensitive to this family and treated this family disrespectfully and violated their civil rights,” according to their Notice of Claim. “They have not investigated this matter and they decline to see the last person with Lauren Smith-Fields before her death as a person of interest.”
Smith-Fields’ brother, Lakeem Jetter, told NBC Connecticut that when he asked a police officer involved in the case about his sister’s date with Bumble, “He said he was a very nice guy. nice and that they weren’t looking for him anymore. It was almost like he was defending him and it seemed weird to hear that from a detective.
On Jan. 31, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim said two detectives involved in the case had been placed on administrative leave and were being investigated by the Bridgeport Police Department’s Office of Internal Affairs.