Home Features Bug Bites and Neglect: $4 Million Settlement for Family of Man Who Tragically Died in Georgia Jail

Bug Bites and Neglect: $4 Million Settlement for Family of Man Who Tragically Died in Georgia Jail

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Georgia Officials Approve $4 Million Settlement for Family of Man Who Tragically Died Covered in Bug Bites at State Jail

In a move to bring some semblance of closure to a heart-wrenching tragedy, Georgia officials have agreed to a $4 million settlement for the family of LaShawn Thompson, a 35-year-old man who passed away in September under disturbing circumstances while in custody at one of the state’s largest jails.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously (6-0) to approve the settlement, as confirmed by Fulton County spokesperson Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez. The case revolved around allegations of severe neglect from the Fulton County Jail staff, as revealed in an independent autopsy earlier that year. The family’s attorney, Michael Harper, along with attorney Ben Crump, are set to release a statement about the settlement soon.

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat expressed his condolences and empathy for the Thompson family, acknowledging that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, he hoped that the settlement would at least represent a measure of justice for the family. He also pledged his commitment to stand with the Thompson family in their call for the Rice Street facility to be replaced and to take necessary actions to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

So, how did LaShawn Thompson meet such a terrible fate? Thompson had been held in the jail’s psychiatric wing for three months following his arrest on a misdemeanor battery charge in Atlanta in June 2022. On September 19th, he was discovered unresponsive in his jail cell and later pronounced dead, as documented by a Fulton County medical examiner’s report.

The report stated that the cause of Thompson’s death was undetermined, with no visible signs of trauma on his body. However, it was shocking to find his entire body covered in bed bug bites, and his cell infested with a “severe bed bug infestation.”

In April, Harper revealed that Thompson had been found dead in an abominable jail cell, having been eaten alive by insects and bed bugs. An independent autopsy further uncovered that Thompson had countless bug bites and was not receiving proper medication for his schizophrenia at the time of his death. Additionally, he suffered from poor living conditions, lack of grooming, dehydration, and rapid weight loss.

The independent autopsy concluded that Thompson’s death should be classified as a homicide, attributing it to severe neglect with untreated decompensated schizophrenia being a contributing factor.

The tragedy triggered investigations into the circumstances leading to Thompson’s death. The sheriff initiated internal inquiries, leading to the resignation of several executive staff members. Further repercussions for those found negligent during Thompson’s care will be determined after a full investigation is conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

In response to the incident, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office took measures to improve conditions in the jail. They updated protocols for security rounds, added more staff to the mental health unit, and transferred numerous inmates to other facilities to alleviate overcrowding.

Furthermore, the Department of Justice launched an investigation to assess if people incarcerated in the jail were subjected to a pattern or practice of constitutional violations. Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed the importance of this comprehensive review to uncover any systemic violations of federal laws and take corrective actions as needed.

The loss of LaShawn Thompson is an immense tragedy, and this settlement is a step towards addressing the devastating impact it had on his family. The hope now is that these investigations and reforms will bring about lasting change, ensuring such a distressing incident never repeats itself.

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