Georgia Inmate Dies After Being “Eaten Alive” by Bed Bugs in Fulton County Jail

Georgia Man and Fulton County Jail Inmate LaShawn Thompson, 35, of Atlanta, was found unresponsive in his cell in the psychiatric wing at Fulton County Jail on Sept. 13, 2022.

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Now his family is calling for a criminal investigation into his death, claiming corrections officials are responsible for the filthy conditions found in the cell at the time of his death, stating Thompson died due to being eaten “alive” by bed bugs.

The attorney for the family, Michael Harper, said in a statement that Thompson was arrested for a misdemeanor simple battery charge on June 12. He was taken to Fulton County Jail and was placed in the psychiatric wing due to mental health issues.

LaShawn Thompson

But three months later, he “was found dead in a filthy jail cell after being eaten alive by insects and bed bugs,” Harper said.

Jail records show that medical staff and detention noticed Thompson was deteriorating, but they didn’t help him. “They literally watched his health decline until he died,” said Harper. “When his body was found, one of the detention officers refused to administer CPR because, in her words, she ‘freaked out.’ ” The jail cell Mr. Thompson was housed in was not fit for a diseased animal. He did not deserve this.”

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s report stated Thompson was found unresponsive in his jail cell on Sept. 19 and pronounced dead after life-saving attempts by responding personnel. No obvious signs of trauma were found on Thompson’s body, the coroner wrote, but his entire body was covered in bed bugs. The report also notes a “severe bed bug infestation” in the inmate’s cell in the psychiatric ward.

The report shows that Thompson’s cause of death was listed as undetermined.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said it launched a “full investigation” into Thompson’s death, and the department immediately dedicated an additional $500,000 to address “bed bugs, lice, and other vermin” at the jail and updated sanitary protocols.”

“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 statement said.

In addition to a criminal investigation, Harper is calling for someone to be held accountable for his death and the closure and replacement of the jail.

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“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,” the sheriff’s office statement said. “That is precisely why Sheriff (Patrick) 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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