Fulton County, Georgia, jail leadership resigns after inmate's death and accusations of unsanitary conditions
The death of the inmate, in a cell that was infested with bugs, has lead to an investigation in which three officials have stepped down.
Three jail officials in Fulton County, Georgia have resigned following an investigation into an inmate's death. The inmate's family claimed that the inmate was kept in a filthy and bug-infested room, which 'wasn't fit for an animal with a disease'.
Fulton County Jail's Chief Jailer and two Assistant Chief Jailers submitted their resignations on the request of Sherriff Patrick 'Pat' Labat at an executive staff meeting held over the weekend. A statement from the Sheriff's Office did not name them.
Labat announced sweeping changes at the facility in a statement released on Monday.
The resignations are coming as the family demands that a criminal probe be conducted into the death of Lashawn Thomson in Atlanta, Georgia on September 20, 2022 and a new facility built.
Thompson's family claimed that his death was caused by unsanitary conditions in the jail, and complications due to insect bites. The cell was unfit for an animal with a serious disease. Michael Harper, the family lawyer, said that this was inexcusable.
The county medical examiner listed the cause and manner of death as "undetermined". The Fulton County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that a full investigation had been launched into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Thompson.
The statement stated that due to privacy laws, the sheriff’s office could not share information about Thompson’s health status when he was detained, or his decision to accept or reject medical treatment.
Labat demanded the resignations of the jail officials after reviewing the preliminary evidence collected during the internal investigation.
The executive team has a combined experience of more than 65 year in jail administration and law-enforcement. This experience is invaluable when used to its fullest. It can also lead to complacency and stagnation, as well as settling for the status-quo.
The statement stated that the sheriff's department is also'reviewing legal options' to change medical providers and enter a contract with one who can deliver care effectively, consistently, and compassionately.
The sheriff's department announced on Friday that'several actions' were already taken. This included a $500,000 expense to address bed bug infestations, lice, and other vermin within the jail. The sheriff's department said that a process had been started to move more than 600 prisoners to other counties to relieve overcrowding. This would cost an average of $40K/day.
Family says that the conditions in jail were "heartbreaking"
Harper, the family lawyer, said that Thompson was in jail for three months before his death. He was placed in the psychiatric section because of mental issues. He was being held for a misdemeanor charge of assault.
Brad McCrae said that the 35-year old was born in Winter Haven in Florida and has lived in Atlanta intermittently in recent years. McCrae revealed that Thompson enjoyed cooking and listening to music.
McCrae was asked by a journalist what he felt when he saw the images of his body and conditions in his cell. He replied, "It was heartbreaking, because no one should see that." No one should ever see such a thing. The first thing I thought of was Emmett till.
Sheriff's Office said that the internal Office of Professional Standards and the Atlanta Police Department investigation, which was the responding organization, are both underway. The statement said that 'once these investigations are complete, the entire investigative package will then be given to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, for review'.
Labat stated in the statement that 'the final investigation report will not ease family members' grief or bring back their loved ones, but I hope and expect that it gives a complete, accurate, and transparent account of all the facts surrounding the death of Mr. Thompson so that they can get the answers and justice that they deserve.