A man found dead and covered in lice and feces in an Atlanta jail was malnourished, dehydrated and had not received his schizophrenia medication for a month, a private coroner said Monday.
The official coroner for Fulton County, Georgia, had ruled in September that the cause of death of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson was “undetermined.”
But Roger Mitchell, the coroner hired by the family of the deceased, stated that he had been “neglected to death” and described what happened as “homicide”.
Thompson’s family released Mitchell’s report Monday, and the lawyers they hired called on authorities to take responsibility.
“For 93 days there was gross neglect of a mentally ill citizen,” said Ben Crump, the famed civil rights lawyer who has handled numerous cases of police abuse against African-Americans.
“It was not a natural death. It was a homicide,” Crump said.
the thompson case
Thompson, a homeless African-American, had been arrested on June 12, 2022 while sleeping in a park across from an Atlanta day care center.
He had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for robbery, but was jailed for “assault” by allegedly spitting on law enforcement officers.
He remained in jail as he was unable to pay bail to be released.
In the first two months of his incarceration, Thompson was in good shape, according to Mitchell’s report.
The prison’s mental health officer reported on July 27 that he was in a clean cell, was living normally, was healthy, and was taking his medication for bipolar and schizoaffective disorders.
According to Mitchell, in the next 43 days there were hardly any reports of her care and no record of her receiving her medications.
When the coroner was able to examine Thompson’s body, days after his death, he discovered that he was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration; he had lost 18% of his body weight and had extensive and severe lice infestation.
Crump demanded that local authorities investigate the death, but he did not file a civil suit, as he has done in many previous cases of deaths at the hands of police.
“Someone has to be held accountable for this,” said the lawyer, who called the death “criminal negligence.”
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