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Georgia man found dead in bed bug infested jail cell died of ‘severe neglect’: Independent autopsy

Ben Crump Law

(ATLANTA) — LaShawn Thompson, the man whose family claimed was “eaten alive by insects and bed bugs” in the Fulton County Jail, died of “complications due to severe neglect,” according to an independent autopsy.

Thompson’s family spoke out in a press conference outside the Georgia State Capitol on Monday, along with their attorneys Ben Crump and Michael Harper, where they announced the results of the independent autopsy in which Thompson’s cause of death is listed as “homicide.”

The autopsy report, which was obtained by ABC News, lists “dehydration, malnutrition, severe body insect infestation,” as well as “untreated decompensated schizophrenia,” as the conditions that led to Thompson’s death in the Atlanta jail on September 13, 2022.

Photos of Thompson covered with bed bugs and images of his filthy cell went viral on social media and led to widespread outrage.

“It’s enough that the bed bugs and lice sat there and ate my brother to death, but it’s the neglect that hurts me the most,” said Thompson’s brother Brad McCray during the press conference on Monday.

“These images all over the internet, all over the media. It’s disturbing. It’s horrific. And it’s a big impact on my family,” McCray added.

Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp nonprofit organization paid for Thompson’s independent autopsy, Harper confirmed to ABC News. Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers player and social justice advocate, offered to pay for an independent autopsy after a previous autopsy released by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office on Jan. 12, 2023 listed Thompson’s cause of death as “undetermined.”

The Fulton County autopsy, which was obtained by ABC News, was completed on Sept. 14, 2022 – a day after Thompson’s death – and listed the conditions of “Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and acute exacerbation.”

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office declined to comment to ABC News on Monday when asked about the results of the independent autopsy.

Thompson was arrested on June 12, 2022, for simple battery against police officials, according to jail records.

His death led to resignations at the Fulton County Jail after the family claimed that Thompson was left in a filthy cell where he was “eaten alive by insects and bed bugs” where staff allegedly ignored his medical needs.

Following Thompson’s death, the Atlanta Police Department and the Office of Professional Standards launched an investigation into Thompson’s death.

Asked about the status of the investigation, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department referred ABC News on Monday to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, saying that they are the lead agency in the probe.

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat told ABC News in a statement on Monday afternoon that while he has “not had a chance to fully review the independent autopsy report,” even before the report was released ” it was painfully clear there were a number of failures that led to Mr. Thompson’s tragic death.”

“I remain committed to making sure the Thompson family receives the answers they need and deserve about the unconscionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Thompson’s death,” he added.

Labat, who joined the family at a previous press conference in April, said in an April 17 statement that following the preliminary finds of the probe into Thompson’s death, there have been “sweeping changes” at the Fulton County Jail.

Labat said in the statement that he asked for and received the resignations of multiple employees at the jail, including the chief jailer, the assistant chief jailer and the assistant chief jailer of the site’s Criminal Investigative Division.

Once the investigation is complete, a report will be handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for review.

“Repercussions for anyone found to be negligent in Mr. Thompson’s care could come once the full investigation is turned over to the GBI for review,” Labat told ABC News in the statement on Monday.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, called on the U.S. Department of Justice on April 20 to launch an investigation into Thompson’s death. The DOJ did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

ABC News’ Nakylah Carter and Teddy Grant contributed to this report.

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