Lashawn Thompson died from ‘severe neglect,’ autopsy finds

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Lashawn Thompson, the 35-year-old Black man whose family claims he was “eaten alive by insects and bed bugs” in Georgia’s Fulton County Jail, died from complications due to severe neglect, an independent autopsy concluded this month.

Dr. Roger A. Mitchell, a board-certified forensic pathologist, listed Thompson’s manner of death as a homicide. This differs from the findings of the Fulton County Medical Examiner, who noted in September that Thompson’s cause of death was “undetermined.”

“Mr. Thompson suffered from schizophrenia which required medical treatment and overall care to support activities of daily living. He did not receive the necessary medical care, nor did he receive the adequate food, water or shelter necessary to sustain his life,” Mitchell wrote.

Based on the report, Thompson had signs of malnutrition, dehydration, extensive and severe body insect infestation, untreated schizophrenia, poor living conditions and poor grooming.

Mitchell found that the infestation stemmed from lice. The report made no mention of bed bugs, however.

During a press conference Monday, Ben Crump, the famed civil rights attorney who is representing Thompson’s family, called this case the “most deplorable death and custody case in history.”

On Sept. 13, jail staff found Thompson unresponsive on the floor and slumped over the toilet inside his cell, the report states. He was covered with feces and body lice. Officials initiated life-saving measures, but Thompson was pronounced dead later that day.

Thompson was taken into custody on June 12. That month, staff noted that Thompson’s “cell was clean and he was groomed appropriately.” According to documentation, there were no signs of neglect until July 27, when officials noticed a gap in documented health care administered to Thompson, which extended to Sept. 8.

Officials did not administer medication to Thompson from Aug. 11 until his death, the report states.

There were signals that Thompson’s condition had started to deteriorate. Six days before he died, a mental health provider noticed him lying in the fetal position on the floor. His room was “unkept and malodorous,” the staff member noted.

Thompson was losing weight and not being administered his medication. That’s when officials made the decision to place him on “psych observation,” the report shows.

Yet, officials never made the transfer, as was noted on Sept. 10 and Sept. 12.

“Had Mr. Thompson received adequate care during his incarceration at the Fulton County Jail then he would not have died at the time that he did,” Mitchell wrote.

“Mr. Thompson was completely reliant 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 the untreated decompensated schizophrenia.”

Thompson had previously been incarcerated at Fulton County Jail from December 2018 to October 2020. At that time, he was reported to have received adequate mental health evaluations, lice treatment, regular lab work and physicals.

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