Lawyers say a man in a Georgia cell was ‘eaten alive’ by insects.  Now the government is investigating the prison

The Justice Department is investigating conditions at a Georgia jail where his lawyers say a man was “eaten alive” by insects in a filthy cell.

Three months after being held in the psychiatric wing of the Fulton County Jail on Sept. 13, 2022, 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson was found dead and “riddled with bites” covering his body, McClatchy News previously reported.

The federal investigation begins after Thompson’s family publicly called for changes and the prison’s closure in April.

“We initiated this investigation at the Fulton County Jail based on serious allegations of unsafe, unsanitary living conditions in the jail, excessive violence and violence within the jail, discrimination against inmates with mental health problems, and the failure to provide adequate medical care to the inmates U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a July 13 press release.

Although prosecutors didn’t directly name Thompson in the press release, they said there were “credible allegations that an incarcerated person died covered in insects and dirt” and that the Fulton County jail was unsafe.

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said in a May 22 statement that he is committed to ensuring Thompson’s family get the answers they need and acknowledged that “a series of omissions” led to the man’s death would have led.

Fulton County and the sheriff’s office are aware of the Justice Department’s investigation and will “fully cooperate,” according to a July 13 statement to McClatchy News.

Thompson’s family is represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Michael D. Harper.

“While nothing can undo the injustice Lashawn Thompson has faced, it is a tragedy that can hopefully lead to much-needed changes at the Fulton County Jail,” Crump and Harper said in a joint statement July 13. “We are praying.” The DOJ is acknowledging the clear pattern of neglect and abuse happening in Fulton County and is ending it immediately lest another family experience this devastation.”

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They also thanked federal officials “for hearing Lashawn’s family’s calls for justice and for opening this investigation.”

According to Harper Lashawn Thompson’s jail cell.

The Justice Department’s civil investigations are being conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the press release said.

Thompson’s cause of death

According to an April 12 press release from the Harper law firm, Thompson was sent to the county jail after being arrested on June 12, 2022 in Atlanta for simple battery charges.

An initial autopsy performed by Fulton County Coroner Michael M. Heninger listed Thompson’s cause of death as “undetermined,” but several observations were made, including that his body was heavily infested with small insects, “the consistent with lice,” McClatchy News previously reported.

A second, independent autopsy report listed Thompson’s cause of death as complications from severe neglect, with untreated decompensated schizophrenia being a cause.

It also explains the manner of death as “homicide” and describes Thompson as “neglected to death,” with dehydration, malnutrition, and severe body insect infestation listed as other important conditions, according to the report submitted to McClatchy News.

The independent autopsy found that Thompson’s body was likely infested with lice for more than 28 days. Lice live about 24 to 28 days and “cannot live without blood,” the report said.

The Justice Department’s investigation is closely examining the cell condition and health care provision at the Fulton County Jail, as well as whether excessive force has been used and whether inmates are protected from violence, the press release said.

The department is also investigating whether people with mental disabilities have faced discrimination at the Fulton County Jail and the Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors said.

“The recent allegations of filthy insect-infested homes, rampant violence resulting in deaths and injuries, and the use of excessive force by officials are of grave concern and warrant a thorough investigation,” said US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan of the Northern District ofGeorgia. said in a statement.

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