Family of inmate who died at Fulton County Jail demands change from commissioners

The family of an inmate who died in a bedbug-infested cell at the Fulton County Jail says they have not heard from county commissioners since they went public about the case.

Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in September, three months after being booked into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. His body was discovered in a cell on the psychiatric floor covered in bed bugs and insects after he was unable to pay his $2,500 bail for a misdemeanor charge.

Photos of the cell and of Thompson’s face and body covered in insects sparked outrage when they spread on social media in April after his family’s local attorney, Michael Harper, released them to the media. The medical examiner’s report lists Thompson’s cause of death as "undetermined" but notes a "severe bed bug infestation."

Lashawn Thompson

Lashawn Thompson  (FOX 5)

Following Thompson's death, Sheriff Pat Labat accepted the resignations of three leaders at the jail. In a statement, the sheriff's office acknowledged the "dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions" of the facility. The sheriff's office has also launched an internal investigation into Thompson's death and is reportedly addressing the sanitation and infestation problems at the facility. 

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"We understand, and I have said this publicly, this is absolutely unconscionable, point blank," Labat said at a press conference with the family.

Wednesday, Thompson's family appeared before the Fulton County commissioners demanding action.

"We came to the Board of Commissioners to talk to them and see what they're doing about the issue," Thompson's brother Brad McCray said after the meeting. "We haven't heard from anybody. We want to know how it happened in their jail, what they're doing about it, and who's being held accountable from the bottom to the top."

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Pictures of Lashawn Thompson's cell at the Fulton County Jail (provided by the family) (FOX 5)

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Family members say they want the county to launch an investigation. Two investigations - one by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office and another by the Atlanta Police Department - are ongoing. Once completed, they'll be turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Responding to Thompson's death, the county board has given the sheriff's office an additional $5.3 million to provide upgrades at the jail, including increased monitoring in the psychiatric and medical units and more frequent high-level sanitation of those units.

The family has already filed a lawsuit over the death.