(NewsNation) — Warning: The article and video contain graphic details and images some may find disturbing.
The family of a 35-year-old man is seeking justice after he was allegedly found dead inside his Georgia jail cell which was infested with bedbugs, lice and roaches.
After spending three months in the Fulton County Jail, Lashawn Thompson’s body was found inside his jail cell last year within the psychiatric wing, in “deplorable” and “inhumane conditions.” His family is now pushing for a federal investigation into the conditions of the facility.
“The cause of Thompson’s death is undetermined but his cell was found in deplorable conditions, and he had insect bites in his ears, mouth, nose and all over his body. Lashawn was housed in the psychiatric wing of the jail due to his diagnosed mental health issues,” attorney Ben Crump said.
Crump told NewsNation host Natasha Zouves that images of the filthy jail cell show a clear “human rights violation.”
Brad McCray, Thompson’s brother, said pictures of the cell look “like a death chamber, a torture chamber.” He said the photos are “horrific to see” and that authorities “left him in there to die.”
“It’s very likely that these bedbugs got into his mouth and throat while he was sleeping,” Crump told NewsNation Prime, later adding, “If we don’t get to the truth, then next time it could be your loved one.”
According to reporting by the Law & Crime Network, Thompson’s body had more than 1,000 bites on his face, eyes, neck, ears and body. He was arrested for misdemeanor simple battery in June of last year.
Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said a $500,000 emergency expense has been approved to address the infestation of bedbugs, lice and other vermin around the jail that “has been operating in crisis mode for decades,” Fox5 reports. Labat called Thompson’s death an “inexcusable and unconscionable tragedy.”
“I understand and accept my responsibility to provide accountability and transparency in making sure something like this never happens again,” Labat, who accepted the resignation of key Fulton County Jail leaders, shared in a statement to Fox5.
According to Crump, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has offered to pay for an independent autopsy to be conducted in the case, with hopes of providing answers to the family.
After hearing of Thompson’s death, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, the chairman of the Senate Human Rights subcommittee, launched an inquiry to strengthen the oversight of jails.
“The Department of Justice has an affirmative obligation to safeguard the civil rights of incarcerated people, whether they are held in federal, state, or local custody. Additionally, the federal government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to state and local prisons and jails through an array of grant programs, including through the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance, and thus has the responsibility to oversee the use of those resources,” Ossoff wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Ossoff requested a response from Garland by early May.