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Lashawn Thompson Died in Bedbug-Infested Jail Cell From ‘Criminal Neglect,’ Autopsy Confirms

The family of Lashawn Thompson has received the results from their independent autopsy that determined the 35-year-old died inside a bedbug-infested jail cell due to “criminal neglect.”

Thompson passed away inside his Fulton County Jail cell in September 2022, three months after being booked on a misdemeanor assault charge, Fox 5 Atlanta reports. His body was found covered in bedbugs and insects inside a psychiatric ward cell he was ordered to stay in due to not having the funds to pay his $2,500 bail.

An initial autopsy listed Thompson’s death as “undetermined” while noting the “severe bed bug infestation” inside his jail cell. Now, months later, and after former NFL star Colin Kaepernick helped fund an independent autopsy, another medical examiner determined the cause of Thompson’s death was cardiac arrhythmia due to criminal neglect.

“For 93 days, there was severe neglect for a mentally ill citizen,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said at a press conference. “And for about 40 of them, he didn’t get any medical treatment at all.”

Calling the Fulton County Jail a “torture chamber,” Crump called out the detention facility for not giving Thompson any medical treatment he needed during his incarceration.

“Major contributing causes—untreated schizophrenia, dehydration, malnutrition, and extensive and severe body insect infestation,” Crump described.

Jail records reportedly confirm the accounts from detention officers and medical staff at the jail, who allegedly noticed Thompson’s deteriorating health but did nothing to help him.

“It’s not enough that the bedbugs and lice ate my brother to death,” Thompson’s brother Brad McCray said. “It’s the neglect that affects me the most.”

Thompson’s family is demanding that the county launch an investigation. Two investigations remain ongoing —one by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and another by the Atlanta Police Department. The family also plans to file a civil rights lawsuit over Thompson’s death.

The latest autopsy results come after the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said “sweeping changes” at the jail are on the way in response to Thompson’s death, CBS News reports. Last month, following a preliminary investigation, called for resignations for the chief jailer, assistant chief jailer, and assistant chief jailer of the criminal investigative division. They, eventually, all resigned.

Meanwhile, the county board has given the sheriff’s office an additional $5.3 million to provide upgrades at Fulton County Jail, including increased monitoring in the psychiatric and medical units and improvements to the sanitation of those units.

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