Sheriff responds to claims inmate was eaten alive by bed bugs inside Fulton County Jail

ATLANTA — The family of a man who died in the Fulton County Jail says he was eaten alive in his cell by bed bugs and insects.

Now, the family’s lawyer is calling for a criminal investigation and a new Fulton County Jail to be built.

The family gathered outside the Fulton County courthouse on Thursday to demand accountability in the death of Lashawn Thompson, 35.

He died in September after a three-month stay at the jail.

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Photos provided by the family’s lawyer show a jail cell in deplorable condition and pictures of Thompson’s body – of his face and torso covered with bugs.

Thompson was arrested last June for simple battery, a misdemeanor.

Attorney Michael Harper said Thompson was diagnosed with schizophrenia but was physically healthy when booked into jail.

“There is no excuse for a mentally ill inmate to be left alone in a jail, abandoned to die,” Harper said.

The medical examiner reported Thompson’s cause of death as “undetermined.”

“They did nothing to help him. Nothing. They found him dead in his cell, lying there infested with bed bugs and lice. And that’s what killed him,” Harper said.

Thompson’s brother, Brad McCrae, said the family was horrified to see the photos.

“It was heartbreaking because nobody should be seen like that. Nobody should see that,” McCrae said.


The family is calling for a criminal investigation of the death and to replace the Fulton County Jail.

A spokesperson for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, sent Channel 2 Action News a written response saying a “full investigation was launched” into the circumstances surrounding Thompson’s death.

“First and foremost, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend condolences to the family Lashawn Thompson.

“The manner and cause of death was listed as ‘undetermined’ by the county medical examiner. A full investigation was launched into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Thompson’s death. As a part of that ongoing investigation, immediate action was taken, including but not limited to:

• approving an additional expenditure of $500,000 to address the infestation of bed bugs, lice and other vermin within the Fulton County Jail which was done in addition to prior cleaning operations targeting communicable diseases that are common in congregant settings and

• updating protocols for security rounds to include addressing sanitary conditions

“The ongoing investigation is examining details regarding the medical care provided and ultimately will determine whether any criminal charges are warranted in this case.

“The health, well-being and security of inmates in our care is our top priority. It’s no secret that the dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions of the current facility make it incredibly difficult to meet the goal of providing a clean, well-maintained and healthy environment for all inmates and staff. That is precisely why Sheriff Labat continues to call building a new Fulton County Jail and Criminal Justice Complex which will provide an elite level of care, mental health services, security and cleanliness.”


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