Three officials at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia have resigned amid a investigate in the death of an inmate whose family said he was sheltered in a dirty, bug-infested cell that was “unfit for a sick animal”.
The Fulton County jail chief and two deputy chief jailers tendered their resignations at the request of Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat during an executive staff meeting over the weekend, the sheriff’s office said in a statement, without naming them.
“It’s clear to me that it’s time, past time, to clean up,” Labat said Monday’s statement announcing “radical changes” at the unit.
The resignations come as the family of Lashawn Thompson calls for a criminal investigation into his September 2022 death at the Atlanta jail and construction of a new facility.
Thompson’s family said his death was the result of unsanitary prison conditions and complications from insect bites. “The cell he was in was not suitable for a sick animal. This is inexcusable and it’s deplorable,” family attorney Michael Harper said at a press conference last week while holding up photos that allegedly showed the conditions in Thompson’s jail cell.
“The manner and cause of death were listed as ‘undetermined’ by the county medical examiner. A full investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Thompson’s death,” the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. statement Thursday.
Because of health privacy regulations, the sheriff’s office could not share any information about Thompson’s health when he was arrested, “or what decisions he made about his right to accept or refuse medical care,” it is shown in the press release.
Labat called for the resignations of prison officials after reviewing preliminary evidence gathered during the internal investigation, he said in the statement Monday.
“Collectively, the executive team that has been in place has over 65 years of experience in prison administration and law enforcement. When used to its fullest, this experience can be invaluable. However, it can also lend itself to complacency, stagnation and contentment with the status quo,” the statement said.
In addition, the sheriff’s office is “examining all legal options to change health care providers and enter into a new contract with a provider who can efficiently, consistently and compassionately provide the best standard of care,” the statement said. statement.
On Friday, the sheriff’s office said “several immediate actions” have already been taken, including a $500,000 emergency outlay “to address the bed bug, lice and other vermin infestation” at the jail. A process to transfer more than 600 inmates to other counties “in an effort to help relieve overcrowding at an average cost of approximately $40,000/day,” the sheriff’s office also began.
Thompson had been in prison for about three months before his death and was housed in the psychiatric wing because he suffered from mental health problems, said Harper, the family’s attorney. He was arrested for assault.
The 35-year-old was born in Winter Haven, Fla., and had lived in Atlanta on and off in recent years, his brother, Brad McCrae, said at the news conference. Thompson enjoyed listening to music and cooking, McCrae said.
Asked by a reporter what he thought when he saw images of his brother’s body and the conditions in his cell, McCrae said: “It was heartbreaking because no one should be seen like that. No one should see this. But the first thing that came to my mind was Emmett Till.”
An internal investigation by the Office of Professional Standards and one led by the Atlanta Police Department, which was the responding agency, are ongoing, the sheriff’s office said Monday. “Once these investigations are complete, the full investigative package will be turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for review,” the statement said.
“The final inquest report will not ease the family’s pain or bring their loved one back, but I hope and expect that it will provide a full, accurate and transparent account of the facts surrounding Mr Thompson’s death so that it provides all the information. the answers they seek and deserve,” Labat said in the statement.