Mentally ill inmate was ‘eaten alive’ by bugs in ‘filthy’ cell, family says
The family of a man who died in a Georgia jail cell says he was eaten alive by bugs, the Washington Post reported Friday
“The cell he was in was not fit for a diseased animal. This is inexcusable and it’s deplorable,” family attorney Michael Harper said at a news conference Thursday.
Lashawn Thompson, 35, was found dead in his cell in September 2022 with an “extremely severe” infestation of small insects across his body, the Post reported, citing an autopsy report. He had been in custody in the psychiatric wing of the Fulton County Jail for about three months on a misdemeanor battery charge.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said the manner and cause of Thompson’s death is undetermined, according to a document obtained by CNN. “Other conditions” listed on the report included “schizoaffective disorder and bipolar and acute exacerbation.”
Harper says Thompson was physically healthy when he was booked into jail.
“There is no excuse for a mentally ill inmate to be left alone in a jail, abandoned to die,” Harper said.
“There is no way this man was being monitored every two hours. It seemed like he wasn’t monitored for months.”
A photo of the lice-ridden cell obtained by the Post show a filth-covered floor strewn with trash, and what appears to be a rusty metal “bed” and desk. Officials who eventually went to check on him reportedly wore safety suits to protect from hazardous materials.
“It was heartbreaking because nobody should be seen like that. Nobody should see that,” Thompson’s brother, Brad McCrae said of photos of Thompson’s face and torso covered with bugs.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, said a “full investigation” has been launched, according to a statement acquired by WSB-TV. The statement extends condolences to Thompson’s family.
The statement goes on to detail actions FCSO is taking with respect to improving conditions. The immediate actions listed include spending $500,000 to address “bed bugs, lice and other vermin,” and updating security rounds to address sanitary conditions.
“It’s no secret that the dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions of the current facility make it incredibly difficult to meet the goal of providing a clean, well-maintained and healthy environment for all inmates and staff,” the statement also said, adding that Sheriff Labat supports the call to build a new jail.
The family is calling for an investigation of Thompson’s death and for the Fulton County Jail to be shut down and replaced.
Watch a press conference with the Thompson family and their lawyer below.
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