Private autopsy: Lashawn Thompson died from ‘severe neglect’

Mentally ill and homeless man was found unresponsive in the Fulton County Jail last year

A private autopsy conducted for the family of a homeless and mentally ill man who died in the Fulton County Jail last year identifies his cause of death as “complications due to severe neglect.”

Lashawn Thompson, 35, of Winter Haven, Florida, lost 32 pounds during the three months he was held in the jail and was not given medication for his schizophrenia for an equal number of days, according to the autopsy. The report also says he was covered in lice that could have caused him to suffer from anemia.

“Because care was withheld from Mr. Lashawn Thompson, his condition deteriorated (decompensated),” says the autopsy by Dr. Roger Mitchell of RAM Consulting. “When he was found to be suffering from his illness, acute and urgent care was not provided to him. It is because of this severe neglect that Mr. Lashawn Thompson died. Therefore, the death of Lashawn Thompson is best classified as a homicide.”

Fulton Sheriff Patrick Labat, who met with Thompson’s family and attorneys last month, released a statement Monday, saying that even before the Thompson family released the autopsy findings, “it was painfully clear there were a number of failures that led to Mr. Thompson’s tragic death.”

“I have already held the executive staff responsible for jail operations accountable by asking for and receiving the resignations of the chief jailer, assistant chief jailer of housing and assistant chief jailer, criminal investigative division,” Labat said. “Repercussions for anyone found to be negligent in Mr. Thompson’s care could come once the full investigation is turned over to the GBI for review. I remain committed to making sure the Thompson family receives the answers they need and deserve about the unconscionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Thompson’s death.”

Thompson wound up in the jail after Georgia Tech police encountered him sleeping in a park outside a childcare center in Midtown Atlanta in June of last year. The officers found a warrant for his arrest in Dothan, Alabama, on a 2017 car theft charge. Georgia Tech police also charged Thompson with simple battery for allegedly spitting on one of them.

Thompson was discovered unresponsive in the jail’s psychiatric wing covered in insects on Sept. 13, according to a Fulton County Medical Examiner report, which lists his cause of death as undetermined.

Colin Kaepernick, the civil rights activist and former NFL quarterback, paid for Thompson’s autopsy through his organization, Know Your Rights Camp, according to Thompson’s family’s attorneys. Mitchell, the autopsy’s author, is chairman of the Pathology Department at Howard University’s College of Medicine. He previously served as the chief medical examiner for Washington D.C.

Thompson’s attorneys, Ben Crump and Michael Harper, released copies of the autopsy after a news conference outside the state Capitol Monday. They were accompanied by Thompson’s relatives and many supporters. Several of the speakers called on state elected officials to take action for preventing more deaths in Georgia jails.

“Somebody should be held accountable for what happened to my nephew,” said Karo Thompson, Lashawn Thompson’s uncle.