An American prisoner died of malnutrition and eaten by lice

The autopsy report made public on Monday is damning: Lashawn Thompson died of “serious negligence” in a prison in the southern United States. This schizophrenic inmate was found dead on September 13, 2022, emaciated, extremely dirty and his body infested with insects in a cell in the psychiatric wing. The 35-year-old African-American homeless man was taken into custody in June by the sheriff of Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, after spitting on an officer.

An official autopsy had ruled that the causes of death were “undetermined” against the background of “schizophrenic and bipolar disorders”. Thanks to funds paid by football player Colin Kaepernick, very involved in the Black Lives Matter movement to fight against racism and police violence, his family had commissioned an independent medical examiner to find out more.

15 kg less

New examinations have therefore taken place. Lashawn Thompson died of “complications due to gross negligence,” Dr. Roger Mitchell concluded in a report released Monday. According to him, Lashawn Thomson had been prescribed medication to contain his schizophrenia when he arrived in prison, but appears not to have received it for at least 43 days. Which precipitated his decline as he was unable to eat, drink or bathe without treatment.

At the time of his death, he weighed 15 kg less than when he was admitted, he was dehydrated and covered in a layer of filth, notes the doctor. His body harbored “countless insects”, including in his nose and mouth, as well as “multiple bites on his arms and legs”, adds the doctor, who considers it possible that the high number of lice caused anemia.

Doctor concludes homicide

He eventually succumbed to cardiac arrhythmia, but this was not a “natural” cause of death. “Lashawn Thompson was neglected until death,” he wrote, calling his death a “homicide.” At a press conference, his family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, said his cell had become “a torture chamber”.

“Someone has to be accountable to their loved ones,” he said. However, no complaint has been filed at this stage. According to local press, the county sheriff had received the family recently and accepted the resignations of two prison officials.

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