County Settles With Family of Inmate 'Eaten Alive' by Bugs

Lashawn Thompson was literally covered in bugs when he died in Fulton County Jail
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2023 11:04 AM CDT
Updated Aug 4, 2023 9:11 AM CDT
Kaepernick to Pay for Autopsy of Inmate Allegedly 'Eaten Alive'
Attorney Michael Harper holds a photo of Lashawn Thompson's cell in the Fulton County Jail at a press conference addressing the results of an independent autopsy determining the cause of death of Thompson on Monday, May 22, 2023.   (Christina Matacotta/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
UPDATE Aug 4, 2023 9:11 AM CDT

Georgia's Fulton County has reached a settlement with the family of a man who died in a insect-infested cell in the county jail's psychiatric wing, the family's lawyers said Thursday. The terms were not immediately disclosed. Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in September, three months after he was booked into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Thompson's death gained public attention in April after attorney Michael Harper released photos of his face and body covered in insects. An independent autopsy released by the family in May said Thompson "was neglected to death." The US Department of Justice cited Thompson's death last month when announcing an investigation into jail conditions in Fulton County, the AP reports.

Apr 21, 2023 11:04 AM CDT

The family of a Georgia inmate who died in his cell is confident an independent autopsy paid for by civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick will show he was "eaten alive" by bugs. Last week, the family of Lashawn Thompson released documents and photos revealing squalid conditions inside his cell at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, where the 35-year-old died in September. The county medical examiner failed to determine a cause of death but noted Thompson had an "extremely severe" infestation of insects on his body, per the Washington Post. "We want to thank Colin Kaepernick for helping [Thompson's] family get to the truth," the family's attorney, Ben Crump, said at a Thursday press conference outside the jail. He promised to inform the public "as soon as we get the results" of the autopsy.

Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, has helped cover the costs of at least 42 autopsies of individuals who suffered police-related deaths as part of a project launched last year, per Sports Illustrated. There was no comment from Kaepernick. Three officials at the jail, including the chief jailer, have resigned since Thompson's family came forward with their claims and photos (warning: they are disturbing) showing insects covering Thompson's face and body, per the Post. The family alleges Thompson, arrested June 12 on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery, was found dead three months later in a "filthy" cell in the jail's psychiatric wing "after being eaten alive by insects and bed bugs," via a statement from attorney Michael Harper, per CBS News.

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Jail records show staff noticed his health deteriorating in the cell "not fit for a diseased animal" but failed to intervene, Harper said, noting a detention officer who found him even "refused to administer CPR because in her words she 'freaked out.'" He called for the jail to be "closed and replaced"—as did Sheriff Patrick Labat following Thursday's presser. He said Thompson's death—the subject of numerous investigations, per the AP—was "inexcusable" but added "the type of infestations that contributed to [it] ... are going to be a recurring problem in a jail where hundreds of detainees do not have cells and have to sleep on the floor." He said the dilapidated and overcrowded jail had been in "crisis mode" for decades. Hundreds of detainees have reportedly been moved elsewhere. (More inmate deaths stories.)

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