LaShawn Thompson, 35, was pronounced dead in 2022 after succumbing to filthy, bug-infested conditions while incarcerated in Georgia’s Fulton County Jail. A year later, his family is fighting for answers and demanding a criminal investigation into his death, PEOPLE reports.
Attorney Michael D. Harper, who’s representing Thompson’s family, claims the Georgia-native was found unresponsive in his cell on Sept. 19, 2022, after being “eaten alive by insects.” Harper also blames Fulton County Jail’s unsanitary conditions as reasoning for his death.
During a news conference on Thursday (April 13), graphic photos of Thompson’s deceased body were shown to which his brother, Brad McCrae, compared what he saw to photos of Emmett Till‘s decades ago.
“It was heartbreaking because nobody should be seen like that,” McCrae stated, CNN reports. “Nobody should see that. But the first thing that entered my mind was Emmett Till.”
Thompson’s family wants “someone to be held accountable in his death” and requests that Fulton County Jail, the same facility that holds Young Thug on RICO charges, be “closed and replaced.”
“The jail cell Mr. Thompson was housed in, was not fit for a diseased animal,” Harper said in a statement on April 12. “He did not deserve this.”
Per statement, Thompson was detained on June 12, 2022 for a simple battery misdemeanor, and was later placed in the psychiatric unit. Reportedly, authorities determined him to have “unspecified” mental conditions. Per reports, deterioration was visible on Thompson’s body by officers and medical staff, but no one further investigated to see what was going on with his health.
“They literally watched his health decline until he died,” Harper said. “When his body was found one of the detention officers refused to administer CPR because in her words she “freaked out.”
Per the Fulton County Medical Examiner, Thompson’s body reportedly had no visible signs of trauma leading officials to list his death as undetermined. Elsewhere in reports, his body was “covered in bed bugs” when discovered and an official death date was “unknown.”
Reportedly documents also stated that, “The decedent’s medical and social history is unknown.”
According to PEOPLE, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office stated, “Due to HIPPA statutes and regulations we are not able to share any information about what Mr. Thompson’s health condition was upon being arrested or what decisions he made regarding his right to accept or refuse medical care.”
However, the sheriff’s office did acknowledge the “dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions” of the jail, and declared that Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat would be fully investigating the circumstances possibly responsible for Thompson’s death.
The jail’s officials also stated that they’re taking “immediate actions” which would include: spending $500,000 to focus on the infestation of vermin; protocols for security rounds, hiring additional staff specifically for the mental health unit, and addressing overcrowding in the facility by transferring inmates to other counties.
“Without making any explicit statements about Mr. Thompson’s health, it’s fair to say that this is one of many cases that illustrate the desperate need for expanded and better mental health services,” the sheriff’s office statement reads.
Reportedly, an internal investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations will find answers that will determine if criminal activity took place on Fulton County Jail’s behalf.