Family’s attorney says inmate was “eaten alive” by bed bugs
The family of an inmate who died in Fulton County Jail in Atlanta last year says he was eaten alive by insects and bed bugs. The family of Lashawn Thompson and their lawyer are now calling for a criminal investigation into his death.
The family’s attorney, Michael Harper, said in a statement that Thompson was arrested for a misdemeanor simple battery charge on June 12. He was taken to Fulton County Jail and was placed in the psychiatric wing due to mental health issues.
But three months later, he “was found dead in a filthy jail cell after being eaten alive by insects and bed bugs,” Harper said.
Jail records show that medical staff and detention noticed Thompson was deteriorating, but they didn’t help him, the attorney said. “They literally watched his health decline until he died,” said Harper. “When his body was found one of the detention officers refused to administer CPR because in her words she ‘freaked out.'”
Harper shared disturbing photos he said were from Thompson’s jail cell that show him apparently covered in bugs and the cell’s dirty conditions, which Thompson’s family gave the attorney permission to share. Harper said the cell was “not fit for a diseased animal.”
“He did not deserve this. Someone has to be held accountable for his death. The Fulton County Jail must be closed and replaced,” he said in the statement, adding that he would hold a news conference on Thursday.
Last year, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat raised concerns with extreme overcrowding at the jail and the need for funding, according to CBS Atlanta. “You have 3,500-plus points of data that show the dangers of where we are and the crisis that we’re in,” Labat said during a meeting with the Fulton County Commission.
He said the total population of the jail was 3,600 after about 1,400 new inmates came to the jail in two years. He said 428 inmates were sleeping on the floor due to overcrowding. One of the city’s commissioners, Bob Ellis, called it a “humanitarian crisis.”
The commission renewed a $27 million contract for inmate physical and mental health services for inmates, but Labat asked for another $6 million to fix other issues with employee retention and overtime.
CBS News has reached out to Fulton County Jail and the sheriff for comment and is awaiting response.