‘Culpability all around’ Sheriff on resignations, changes related to inmate death

The Fulton Sheriff’s Office announced the resignation of three top jail officials and several changes including possibly switching medical providers in response to the death of Lashawn Thompson.
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat announced Monday in a news release that some of his top executive staff at the Fulton County jail have resigned.

“It’s clear to me that it’s time, past time, to clean house,” Sheriff Labat stated Monday.

At an executive staff meeting held over the weekend, Sheriff Labat asked for, received, and accepted the resignations of the Chief Jailer, Assistant Chief Jailer, and Assistant Chief Jailer, Criminal Investigative Division.

The sheriff’s office is also reviewing all legal options to “change medical vendors and enter into a new contract with a provider that can effectively, consistently, and compassionately deliver the best standard of care.”

Last week the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office addressed concerns surrounding the death of an inmate whose family and attorney claim was “eaten alive by insects and bed bugs” at the jail.

Lashawn Thompson was found dead in a Fulton County jail cell on Sept. 13, 2022, three months after the 35-year-old was arrested for misdemeanor battery. Disturbing pictures, provided by attorney Michael Harper, appear to show Thompson’s body riddled with sores believed to be from bed bugs and insects.

“We want a full investigation,” said Brad McCrae, Thompson’s brother. “I thought about Emmett Till, comparing those photos. It was heartbreaking, hard to look at it.”

Family wants answers after man ‘eaten alive’ by bed bugs in county jail, attorney says

“There is no excuse for a mentally ill inmate to be left alone in a jail, abandoned to die,” Harper added. “There is no way this man was being monitored every two hours. It seemed like he wasn’t monitored for months.”

Fulton County Sheriff’s Office addresses jail infestation, inmate death

A spokesperson for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office says investigators are still working to learn what led up to Thompson’s sudden death.

“Investigators are still doing important work examining the circumstances that led to Mr. LaShawn Thompson’s tragic death. That work includes the ongoing OPS investigation and an investigation being conducted by the Atlanta Police Department, which was the responding agency. Once those investigations are completed, the full investigative package will be handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for review,” a release stated.

“Most importantly, we want to, once again, extend our sincere condolences to the family of Mr. LaShawn Thompson,” said Sheriff Patrick ‘Pat’ Labat. “The final investigative report will not ease the family’s grief or bring their loved one back, but it is my hope and expectation that it provides a full, accurate, and transparent account of the facts surrounding Mr. Thompson’s death so that it provides all of the answers they are seeking and deserve.”

• The $500k emergency expense was approved in September and services were rendered at that time. That mitigation was in addition to prior ongoing and routine mitigation services.

• Detainee transfers began shortly after Sheriff Labat assumed office in 2021 and are ongoing. Sheriff Labat has sought additional transfers in light of this tragedy with a total of 673 detainees currently housed in other municipalities at an average cost of $47k per day. Efforts to transfer detainees out of Rice Street are ongoing.

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