A man found dead in an Atlanta jail covered in lice and feces was malnourished, dehydrated and hadn't been given his schizophrenia medicine for a month, a private coroner reported Monday.
While the official Fulton County, Georgia coroner ruled last September that the cause of death of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson was "undetermined," Roger Mitchell, a medical examiner hired by Thompson's family, said he was "neglected to death" and called it "homicide."
Thompson's family released Mitchell's report Monday, and attorneys they hired demanded officials take responsibility.
"For 93 days, there was severe neglect of a mentally ill citizen," said Ben Crump, the famed civil rights attorney who has taken up numerous cases of police abuse of African Americans.
"So it makes it clear this was not a natural death. This was a homicide," Crump said.
Thompson, a Black man who was homeless, was arrested on June 12, 2022 while sleeping in a park outside an Atlanta childcare center.
He had an outstanding theft warrant but was jailed for "assault," allegedly spitting on law enforcement officers.
He stayed in jail because he could not make the bail payments required for release.
For the first two months of his incarceration, Thompson was in good condition, according to Mitchell's report. The jail's mental health provider on July 27 reported him in a clean cell, living normally, healthy, and taking his medicine for bipolar and schizoaffective disorders.
But Mitchell said that for the next 43 days there were "minimal" records on his care, and no record of him receiving his drugs between August 11 and his death.
When Mitchell was able to examine his body days after his death, he found Thompson suffered from malnutrition and dehydration, had lost 18 percent of his body weight, and had an extensive and severe body lice infestation.
Crump demanded local authorities investigate the death, but did not directly accuse anyone of murder or launch a civil suit, as he has done in many previous cases involving deaths at the hands of police.
"Somebody has to be held accountable for this," said Crump, calling Thompson's death "criminal negligence."