Jail staff knew Lashawn Thompson's cell was full of filth, records show, but no one saved him before his family says he was 'eaten alive' by bugs
Staffers at a Georgia jail knew a detainee was living in filth before he died, records show.
Lashawn Thompson was found dead at the Fulton County Jail in September 2022.
Records show staffers sounded the alarm about his cell conditions and health before he died.
Staffers at a notorious Georgia jail knew one of the facility's detainees was living in filth in his cell, but no one saved the man before his family alleges he was "eaten alive" by insects and bed bugs, records obtained by Insider show.
Lashawn Thompson, 35, was discovered dead inside a cell at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 13, 2022 — three months after he was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery.
Graphic photos released last month by an attorney for Thompson's family showed the horrific conditions of Thompson's cell and the young man's body covered in bugs and apparent bites.
According to jail documents obtained by Insider through a public-records request, at least two jail staffers sounded the alarm to other officials about Thompson's cell conditions and concerns about his health in the days before his death.
Michael Harper, an attorney for Thompson's family, told Insider last month that jail staff knew Thompson was "deteriorating" but did nothing to help him.
Thompson was found unresponsive, "slumped over" on the floor of his cell with his head in the toilet and "covered in feces and lice" when Detention Officer Jeana Andrews went to move Thompson to the medical observation unit in the early morning hours of September 13, the records show.
In an incident report, Andrews stated that she had "communicated with mental health staff" and a sergeant about Thompson's "living conditions" on "previous dates." The officer reported that the last date she "voiced concern" was September 8 — five days before Thompson's death.
Another officer wrote in a September 13 supervisor investigation report that Detention Officer Jonathan Dente informed him that he tried to have Thompson re-located to the medical observation unit "earlier in the week due to his concern for his health."
Dente told the supervisor that Thompson "had not looked well for the past few days," according to the documents.
In an incident report, Dente said that it was decided on September 12 that Thompson would be moved to the medical observation unit "due to his sudden decline in health."
"I talked to the psych nurse that his situation needs some attention," Dente reported, according to the records.
Despite these concerns Thompson — who Harper said had been placed in the jail's psychiatric wing after officials determined he had a mental illness — died in his cell.
A report from the Fulton County medical examiner described a "severe bed bug infestation" in Thompson's cell. The medical examiner ruled Thompson's cause and manner of death as "undetermined."
When asked for comment about the newly-obtained records, a spokesperson for the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, referred Insider to an April 17 press release outlining "resignations that were requested and submitted from those who were directly responsible for jail operations at the time of Mr. Thompson's death."
"Because of the pending litigation and the open investigation, which could result in additional reprimands and/or terminations, we are not able to offer additional comment at this time," the spokesperson added.
Thompson was among 15 detainee deaths at the jail last year
Thompson was one of a staggering 15 detainees at the Fulton County Jail who died in 2022, according to data obtained by Insider through a public-records request.
That figure is up from two deaths at the jail in 2020 and three deaths in 2021, the data shows. As of May 8, there have been three detainee deaths so far in 2023, according to the data.
The Fulton County Sheriff's Office's spokesperson told Insider that "a number of factors contributed to inmate deaths in 2022."
Those factors included an "exacerbation of dangerous overcrowding which led to an escalation of violent attacks between inmates, outbreaks of communicable diseases … the crumbling infrastructure of the dilapidated Rice Street facility which has resulted in a dramatic increase in makeshift weapons and shanks, the poor health conditions of inmates upon intake and natural causes," the spokesperson said.
Atlanta, Georgia, criminal defense attorney Sarah Flack, who has represented several clients who have been locked up at the Fulton County Jail, called the figure of 15 deaths "astronomical."
"It is very widely known if you practice in the state of Georgia that the worst jail to be in in this state is the Fulton County Jail," Flack told Insider, adding that she's had clients in the facility who are "begging" to be sent to prison instead.
"It's that bad," said the lawyer.
Earlier this month, Flack said she visited a client being detained at the jail.
"These men are in there with no hot water, no running water. They're sleeping on the floor," said Flack. "Bugs are still an issue. The drug use in there is rampant."
Read the original article on Insider