(CNN) The family of Lashawn Thompson, an inmate who died in the Fulton County Jail last year, is calling for a criminal inquest into his death and for the facility to be closed and a new one built.
Family attorney Michael Harper blamed unsanitary conditions and complications from insect bites for Thompson’s death in September after three months in prison at a news conference Thursday.
Holding up photos allegedly showing conditions in Thompson’s prison cell, Harper said: “The cell he was in was not suitable for a sick animal. This is inexcusable and regrettable.”
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement the law prohibits the department from sharing information about Thompson’s health when he was incarcerated, “or what decisions he made regarding his right to accept or refuse medical care.”
The Fulton County medical examiner’s office listed the manner and cause of death as undetermined, according to a document sent to CNN. The report listed schizoaffective disorder, bipolar, and acute exacerbations as “other disorders.”
Thompson had been incarcerated for assault since June 2022 and was placed in the psychiatric wing of the prison for his mental health issues, according to Harper.
Brad McCrae, Thompson’s brother, told reporters his sibling “didn’t deserve this.”
Thompson, 35, was from Winter Haven, Fla. but loved Atlanta and commuted between the two cities. McCrae said his brother enjoys listening to music and cooking.
When asked by a reporter what he thought when he saw pictures of his brother’s body and the conditions in his cell, McCrae said: “It was heartbreaking because no one should be seen like that. Nobody should see this. But the first thing that came to mind was Emmett Till.”
The sheriff’s statement acknowledged the “dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions” at the jail and said Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat also wanted a new jail.
“Without making explicit statements about Mr. Thompson’s health, it is fair to say that this is one of many cases that illustrate the urgent need for expanded and better mental health services,” the office’s statement said. “This is exactly why Sheriff Labat continues to call for construction of a new Fulton County Jail and Criminal Justice Complex.”
CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.