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US inmate dies after being 'eaten alive' in prison cell by bugs 

The photo shows Thompson’s cell's disgustingly dirty conditions.

An American inmate has died after being “eaten alive” by bugs in a filthy prison cell in the state of Georgia.

Lashawn Thompson, 35, died on September 12, 2022, after initially being arrested and detained three months earlier on June 12, 2022, on a misdemeanor battery charge in Atlanta, where he was taken to the Fulton County Jail and was placed in the psychiatric wing after officials determined he was mentally ill.

Prison records obtained through public records requests show that the detention officers and medical staff at the jail noticed Thompson's health was deteriorating in custody, but did nothing to administer aid to him, Michael B. Harper, an attorney representing Thompson's family told USA Today.

"They literally watched his health decline until he died," Harper said. "When his body was found one of the detention officers refused to administer CPR because in her words she 'freaked out.' The jail cell Mr. Thompson was housed in was not fit for a diseased animal. He did not deserve this."

"If you see the photos of the cell that this man was in, you're gonna be outraged," Harper explained. "I mean, it was a filthy, deplorable cell that was really inhumane. The pictures speak for themselves."

"Mr. Thompson was found dead in a filthy jail cell after being eaten alive by insects and bed bugs," he said.

Thompson’s body ravaged by what appear to be small bug bites.

Harper said Thompson’s family demands a criminal investigation into his death as well as the closure and replacement of the Fulton County Jail.

In addition to the criminal investigation, Thompson's attorney said, his family is calling for someone to be held accountable for Lashawn’s death. No lawsuit has yet been filed.

The medical examiner said in the autopsy report that Thompson's death was "undetermined." However, the coroner did note that Thompson's entire body was covered in bed bugs. The report also goes on to note a "severe bed bug infestation" in the inmate's cell in the psychiatric ward.

In the meantime, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office released a statement on Thursday, saying a full investigation was underway to determine the circumstances surrounding Thompson's death. 

It added that it had approved an additional expenditure of $500,000 to address the bug infestation in the prison while updating protocols regarding security rounds to include addressing sanitary conditions.

"It’s no secret that the dilapidated and rapidly eroding conditions of the current facility make it incredibly difficult to meet the goal of providing a clean, well-maintained and healthy environment for all inmates and staff," the sheriff's office statement said.

"That is precisely why Sheriff (Patrick) Labat continues to call building a new Fulton County Jail and Criminal Justice Complex which will provide an elite level of care, mental health services, security, and cleanliness."

In a similar incident, a man with schizophrenia died in solitary confinement at an Indiana jail in 2021.

Joshua McLemore, 29, died due to malnutrition and dehydration after being kept naked and hungry for nearly 3 weeks in a windowless cell littered with urine and feces.

McLemore, who was arrested for pulling a nurse’s hair while in the emergency room, was charged with battery and taken to the Jackson County Jail on July 20, 2021.

A lawsuit, filed on behalf of McLemore’s estate, says jailers placed the prisoner in an isolation cell, where he remained “confined, naked, alone, and in a constant state of psychosis for the next 20 days.”

McLemore died due to “multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia,” according to a coroner’s report provided by his attorney. A history of methamphetamine withdrawal was also noted as a contributing factor.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana states that McLemore’s death was the result of “multiple acts of indifference, as well as systemic and unconstitutional deficiencies” in the county’s policies, practices, and training programs.

Jackson County and its sheriff Rick Meyer, three jail employees, a doctor who oversaw clinical issues and procedures for the county and jail, and the company that provides health care services at the facility, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, were all sued over McLemore’s death.

However, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney checked the records in 2022, finding no crimes were committed by jail employees in relation to his death, according to CNN affiliate WDRB.

The new lawsuit brings a claim for the violation of McLemore’s 14th Amendment rights, accusing all defendants of “causing him unnecessary pain and suffering and, ultimately, an avoidable death.” It is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

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