Family of inmate who was “eaten alive” by bed bugs in Georgia prison reaches agreement with county

Fulton County in Georgia has reached a settlement with the family of a man who died in a bedbug-infested cell in the county jail's psychiatric unit, the family's attorneys said Thursday. The family's attorneys previously said Lashawn Thompson was “eaten alive” by bed bugs.

Thompson, 35, died in September, three months after being booked into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Attorneys Ben Crump and Michael Harper, who represent Thompson's family, said in a news release Thursday that the family has reached settlements with the county “and other undisclosed entities.”

Thompson's death attracted public attention in April after Harper published photos of his face and body covered in insects. The U.S. Department of Justice cited Thompson's death last month when Announcement of an investigation into prison conditions in Fulton County.

A general view of the Fulton County Jail building

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The family is satisfied with the settlements, but the lawyers said in their statement that “we are far from the end of this road to complete justice.”

“We will continue to work with the Thompson family – and the community that stands behind them – to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens to another family or takes another life again,” the statement said. “Lashawn's life mattered, and together we can demand and motivate meaningful change in his name. That will be Lashawn Thompson's legacy.”

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The lawyers said the settlements were for “undisclosed amounts.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Fulton County commissioners agreed to a $4 million settlement on Wednesday, but said the exact terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed.

Thompson suffered from untreated schizophrenia in prison, according to an independent Autopsy report The family announced that Thompson was “neglected to death.” An earlier report from the Fulton County Coroner's Office found no obvious signs of injury on Thompson's body, but noted a “severe bed bug infestation.” The cause of death was listed as “undetermined.”

Justice Department investigators plan to look at living conditions, access to medical and mental health care, excessive use of force by staff and conditions that could lead to violence among inmates at Fulton County jails, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said last month in announcing the federal investigation.

“Recent allegations of filthy, insect-infested homes, rampant violence resulting in death and injury, and excessive use of force by police officers raise grave concerns and require a thorough investigation,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia said last month.

In April, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, which is responsible for the administration and operation of the Fulton County Jail, announced that it “comprehensive changes” in prison after Thompson's death. Sheriff Patrick Labat said at the time that after a preliminary investigation, he had called for the resignations of the chief jailer, deputy chief jailer and deputy chief criminal investigator. They all resigned.

Aliza Chasan contributed to this report.

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