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.
A combination of dehydration, rapid weight loss and malnutrition, complicated by untreated decompensated schizophrenia, led to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia, the report said.
LaShawn Thompson (pictured), a man who died in a bedbug-infested cell in the psychiatric wing of a Georgia prison “died of gross negligence,” according to an independent autopsy released Monday by attorneys for his family
‘M. Thompson was neglected to death,’ says the autopsy report written by Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., former chief medical examiner in Washington, DC, who is now a professor and chair of the pathology department at Howard 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.
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.” It 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.
Lawyers also called on Governor Brian Kemp to deal with a “mental health crisis” in the state.
A report from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office noted a ‘severe bedbug infestation’
Mr Thompson was reportedly found dead in a filthy cell at Fulton County Jail
The prison is ‘dangerously overcrowded and understaffed’, according to the Southern Center for Human Rights
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 the resignations of the top three prison staff last month.
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.
‘M. 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 states.
LaShawn Thompson was placed in the psychiatric wing of Fulton County Jail after authorities determined he had mental issues
Colin Kaepernick offered to pay for a second autopsy to be performed on Thompson
According TMZ SportsKaepernick contacted one of the family’s attorneys, Ben Crump, to fund a second autopsy which could cost between $20 and $50,000.
TMZ also reports that Kaepernick was shocked by reports of the conditions in which the 35-year-old was being held.
Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, was the first athlete to take a knee in protest against racial inequality and police brutality.
His controversial act of protest inspired many athletes to take a knee during the national anthem and was an icon of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, his activism was not welcomed by all and sparked a heated nationwide debate, during which some of his own fans set his shirt on fire.
Following the controversy, the NFL in 2018 issued a ruling prohibiting players from sitting or kneeling while singing or playing The Star-Spangled Banner before games.
Although the decision was never officially overturned, no players were disciplined for kneeling, and in 2020 league commissioner Roger Goodell promised to support players who protest peacefully.
In 2017, he sued the NFL, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him out of the league over his protests during the national anthem.
In 2019, Kaepernick settled the grievance with the NFL for an undisclosed amount after accusing the owners of blackballing him in retaliation for the controversial protests.