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Man Found Dead in US Jail Covered in Lice, Criminal Negligence Alleged

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Published on: 23 May 2023 at 12:25 IST

A private coroner’s report revealed that a man who was discovered deceased in an Atlanta jail, covered in lice and feces, had been deprived of proper nourishment, hydration, and his schizophrenia medication for an entire month.

While the official coroner’s ruling in Fulton County, Georgia, last September deemed the cause of death for 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson as “undetermined,” a medical examiner hired by Thompson’s family named Roger Mitchell stated that he was essentially “neglected to death,” classifying it as a “homicide.”

The family of Thompson released Mitchell’s report on Monday, and the attorneys they hired urged authorities to acknowledge their responsibility in the matter.

Ben Crump, a renowned civil rights attorney known for taking on cases involving police abuse of African Americans, stated that there was severe neglect of a mentally ill individual for a period of 93 days. He emphasized that this indicates that the death was not natural but rather a homicide.

Lashawn Thompson, a homeless Black man, was arrested on June 12, 2022, while sleeping in a park near an Atlanta childcare center. Although he had an outstanding theft warrant, he was detained on charges of “assault” for allegedly spitting on law enforcement officers. Thompson remained in jail due to his inability to afford the required bail.

According to Roger Mitchell’s report, the appointed medical examiner, Thompson was initially in good condition during the first two months of his incarceration. The jail’s mental health provider reported on July 27 that he was in a clean cell, leading a normal life, in good health, and taking his medication for bipolar and schizoaffective disorders.

However, Mitchell’s report revealed that for the following 43 days, there were minimal records regarding Thompson’s care, and there was no documentation of him receiving his medications from August 11 until his death. Upon examining Thompson’s body several days after his passing, Mitchell discovered signs of malnutrition and dehydration, an 18% loss of body weight, and a severe infestation of body lice.

While demanding a thorough investigation into Thompson’s death, Crump did not directly accuse anyone of murder or file a civil lawsuit, as he has done in previous cases involving deaths caused by police. He emphasized the need for someone to be held accountable for what he called “criminal negligence” leading to Thompson’s demise.