A Georgia family is seeking answers after learning that Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in custody at an Atlanta jail. The family claims “insects and bed bugs” ate Thompson alive.
TSR Investigates’ Justin Carter dived into Thompson’s death and how it could have been avoided as the family looks to hold jail officials responsible for negligence.
Thompson arrived at the Fulton County Jail in June 2022. For the next three months afterward, the 35-year-old’s health declined rapidly. Yet, his family says he had no pre-existing health conditions–other than a schizophrenia diagnosis–before local police booked him.
Now, his family claims Thompson’s dirty, bug-infested jail cell caused the decline and eventual death. They revealed the cell to the public via their attorney, Michael D. Harper.
RELATED: Family Says Man Died In Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail After Being ‘Eaten Alive By Insects And Bed Bugs’ (Photos)
TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS AHEAD
Autopsy Photos Show Hundreds Of Bites From Insects And Bed Bugs, Family Says
Thompson was booked into the county jail for a misdemeanor battery charge. During his three months there, his family noted his mental health declining. However, they also said he entered the jail in good physical health.
But, the case took a disturbing turn when the autopsy photos were released. The family finally saw the ‘hundreds’ of bites from insects and bed bugs all over Thompson’s body.
Renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump says the pictures tell the entire story.
“You can see these bed bugs, these lice. They were in his eyes, in his nose, in his mouth, his ears,” Crump said at a recent press conference.
With attorney Ben Crump now behind them, the Thompson family says they want justice and accountability.
“Lashawn laying in a jail cell, can you imagine bugs crawling all over him?” his mother Mamie Norman said. “He was screaming and hollering and nobody comes to help him?!”
These are the DEPLORABLE and inhumane conditions Lashawn Thompson had to endure during his stay in the psychiatric wing of the Fulton County (GA) Jail. After his death, he was found with insect bites all over his body. We cannot look away, we must demand justice! pic.twitter.com/mpO680k5K8
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 20, 2023
Lashawn’s Cause Of Death Listed As “Undetermined” But Noted “Severe Bed Bug Infestation”
Thompson was found unresponsive in his jail cell on Sept. 12, 2022, with the autopsy showing no signs of trauma. The cause of death was listed as “undetermined.” However, it did note that there was a “severe bed bug infestation” in the jail.
I dare not share the photo of how this poor man was found in Fulton County Jail. They will blame it on his mental health. Anyone and everyone that had a duty of care to this UNCONVICTED and HIGH RISK prisoner, should be held accountable.#LashawnThompson #FultonCountyJail pic.twitter.com/PQfY0BWN2c
— Josh Fernie (@J_A_Fernie) April 16, 2023
Michael Harper, the lead defense attorney in the case, says that Lashawn wasn’t the only person to suffer from bed bugs in his jail unit.
Meanwhile, the deplorable conditions at the jail have already been previously publicized.
Lashawn’s death is hardly the first at the Fulton County Jail. Between 2009 and October 2022, 64 people reportedly died at the correctional facility. That marks the highest death toll for any jail in Georgia during that timeframe.
100 Percent Of Inmates In Mentally Ill Unit Had Lice, Scabies Or Both, Report Finds
The Southern Center for Human Rights also found in a Nov. 2022 investigation that “medical professionals were brought in to access outbreaks at the jail.”
In one unit alone–where mentally ill inmates are held–officials found 100 percent of inmates had either lice, scabies, or both.
It also found that 90 percent of inmates in that unit didn’t shower daily, get out of bed, dress, or use the bathroom. The report went on to find that essential medications were being withheld from inmates as well.
Lashawn’s brother, Brad McCray, said Thompson’s jail cell “looked like a death chamber, a torture chamber.”
According to attorneys, jail staff was well aware of Thompson’s declining health but didn’t help. Instead, they just watched his slow decline.
Today, we stood alongside #LashawnThompson’s family and advocates to discuss the almost CRIMINAL treatment the 35-yo endured in the Fulton County (GA) Jail. His treatment amounts to a human rights violation that must be accounted for!
📷: WSB-TV pic.twitter.com/MIkOzZidHh
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 20, 2023
Sheriff Announces Three Top-Ranking Jail Staffers Are Resigning Over The Incident
Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, who oversees the jail, announced that three top-ranking jail staffers would resign due to Thompson’s death.
However, attorney Harper pointed out that people who retire or resign must keep their pensions and certifications and will likely go elsewhere to work.
“Why not fire them?” Harper questioned.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Labat said that over $5.3 million in emergency funding would be provided to upgrade and clean the facilities and a proposal for a new medical provider. Labat said they’ve already spent about $50,000 on decontamination.
Last week, Colin Kaepernick reportedly offered to “fund a second, independent autopsy” for the family.