$4M settlement reached with family of man who died in bed bug-infested jail cell

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Thursday, August 3, 2023

Officials in Fulton County, Georgia, agreed to a $4 million settlement with the family of a man who died in a bed bug-infested jail cell last year.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the $4 million settlement related to LaShawn Thompson during a meeting on Wednesday, a Fulton County spokesperson confirmed.

Thompson, 35, died in the Fulton County Jail on Sept. 13, 2022. Attorneys for his family claimed Thompson was "eaten alive by bed bugs."

The family and their legal team are not making a statement on the settlement, an attorney for the family, Michael Harper, told ABC News.

"The Fulton County Commissioners' vote speaks for itself," Harper said in an email.

Thompson was arrested on June 12, 2022, for simple battery against police officials, according to jail records. Photos of him covered with bed bugs and images of his filthy cell went viral on social media in the wake of this death, leading to widespread outrage.

An autopsy released by the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office in January lists Thompson's cause of death as "undetermined."

An independent autopsy commissioned by Thompson's family in May, and obtained by ABC News, lists "dehydration, malnutrition, severe body insect infestation" as well as "untreated decompensated schizophrenia" as the conditions that led to Thompson's death.

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick "Pat" Labat told ABC News in a statement in May that "it was painfully clear there were a number of failures that led to Mr. Thompson's tragic death" and that there have been "sweeping changes" at the jail since.

Multiple employees of the Fulton County Jail also resigned following Thompson's death.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced last month it has launched a civil investigation into the Fulton County jail system following a series of reports of inmate abuse and neglect, including the death of Thompson.

Kristen Clarke, the DOJ's Civil Rights Division head, said investigators will examine living conditions in the jail, inmates' access to medical and mental health care services and allegations of use of excessive force by staff.

Fulton County officials and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office said they will be cooperating fully with the investigation.

ABC News' Deena Zaru, Tesfaye Negussie and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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