STORM WATCH

Heat and high humidity today will be accompanied by possible strong to severe thunderstorms

Family of Lauren Smith-Fields pushes for release of public records regarding her death

The family of Lauren Smith-Fields is continuing to push for the release of public records regarding their daughter's untimely death, which made national headlines last year.

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2023, 1:18 AM

Updated 499 days ago

Share:

The City of Bridgeport is taking steps to minimize wait times of the requests of public records through the Freedom of Information Requests.
The family of Lauren Smith-Fields is continuing to push for the release of public records regarding their daughter's untimely death, which made national headlines last year.
It's been one year and two months since Smith-Fields' death, and the family's attorney says they're fighting the city for certain records. They are specifically asking the city for the 911 calls made the night Smith-Fields died, documents and outcomes pertaining to items seized at the scene of where she died and phone records and calls made the night of her death.
The family's attorney says the purpose of getting these records is to provide Smith-Fields' family with answers they've never received from the City of Bridgeport. He says they've been left in the dark leading up to the circumstances of her death.
"The family is really, really hurting because their loved one is gone and the one thing they don't want to feel at the same time is discarded. So, one they lost their daughter, their sister, their niece, their cousin, and the city, while doesn't owe them an apology for the loss, at this point, they should get an apology for the fact they haven't been responsive," said Darnell Crosland, the family's attorney.
Smith-Fields' family is not the only ones trying to gain access to public records. The City of Bridgeport acknowledged Thursday the bottleneck delays of FOI requests and their plans to fix them, saying "In the interim, the City will be conducting comprehensive training to all relevant staff and issuing each department necessary new software licenses to facilitate this change."
Mike Lawlor, a criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven, explains there are exceptions for agencies to not release certain documents, but even releasing documents with redactions could ensure transparency.
"To just not release anything and apparently ghost the family members here when they're asking for some feedback is really a bad practice," said Lawlor. "It's not a complete blanket total - we don't have to disclose anything - but its my right, its your right, to find out what's going on."
News 12 Connecticut reached out to Chief Roderick Porter at Bridgeport police about Smith-Fields' family pushing for access to records, and he said they're researching the request to see what they can provide. Porter says they also want to provide a level of comfort and transparency to the family going forward.
For more information on FOI requests within the City of Bridgeport, click here and here.


More from News 12