Lashawn Thompson’s autopsy report finds ‘gross negligence’ caused death of man in Fulton County jail cell infested with bed bugs

ATLANTE — A man who died in a bedbug-infested cell in the psychiatric wing of a Georgia prison “died of gross neglect,” according to an independent autopsy released Monday by his family’s attorneys.

Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in September, three months after being incarcerated at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Public outrage over his death spread last month after a lawyer for his family, Michael Harper, released photos of Thompson’s face and body covered in bugs.

“Mr. Thompson was neglected to death,” says the autopsy report written by Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., former chief medical examiner in Washington, D.C., who is now a professor and chair of the Howard Department of Pathology. University College. of Medicine.

The independent autopsy report lists the cause of death as ‘complications due to gross negligence’, with ‘untreated decompensated schizophrenia’ being identified as a contributing cause.

SEE ALSO | Family seeks justice after inmate died allegedly ‘eaten alive’ by bedbugs

A combination of dehydration, rapid weight loss and malnutrition, complicated by untreated decompensated schizophrenia, led to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia, the report states. Because he did not receive necessary medical care or adequate food, water and shelter, his manner of death is homicide, Mitchell wrote.

An earlier report from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office found no obvious signs of trauma to Thompson’s body, but noted a “severe bedbug infestation.” He lists his cause of death as “undetermined”.

The new autopsy “confirms that this is one of the most deplorable deaths in custody in American history,” said prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family.

Lawyers and family advocates paid tribute to Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat, who publicly called Thompson’s death “absolutely unconscionable.” They called on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to take responsibility and act quickly to resolve the jail’s issues and urged the district attorney’s office to bring criminal charges. They also called on Governor Brian Kemp to address a “mental health crisis” in the state.

Labat, who took office in 2021 and has long advocated for a new prison, said Thompson’s death shows the current prison cannot provide “safe and humane detention”. His office did not immediately respond to an email on Monday seeking comment on the independent autopsy report.

Labat said that once investigations into Thompson’s death — one internal by his office and another by the Atlanta Police Department — are completed, they will be turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He announced last month the resignation of three prison staff.

Thompson had lost 32 pounds, or about 18% of his body weight, during his three months in Fulton County Jail and showed signs of dehydration, the report said. In addition to “countless insects” all over his body, his hands, feet, fingernails and toenails were filthy, he said.

Prison medical records show Thompson received his last dose of the medication he was prescribed for his mental health issues 32 days before his death, the report said.

“Mr. Thompson was entirely dependent on his caregivers to provide both day-to-day care as well as the acute life-saving care that was needed to save him from untreated decompensated schizophrenia,” the report said.

The independent autopsy was funded by Know Your Rights Camp’s Autopsy Initiative, an initiative started by former NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick.


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