Lashawn Thompson's Death in Georgia Jail Was Homicide by Neglect, Says Autopsy
Plus: Louisiana bill would ban teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity, TikTok is suing Montana, and more...
Jail death was homicide via "severe neglect," says an independent autopsy. Lashawn Thompson was found dead in a bug-infested Fulton County Jail cell last September. The medical examiner for the county called Thompson's cause of death "undetermined." Now, an independent autopsy made possible by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's Autopsy Initiative says Thompson's death was caused by "complications due to severe neglect."
Because Thompson "was completely reliant on his caregivers to provide both day-to-day care as well as the acute life-saving care that was needed to save him from the untreated decompensated schizophrenia," the fatal neglect that led to his death should be considered homicide, says the autopsy report. "He did not receive the necessary medical care, nor did he receive the adequate food, water, or shelter necessary to sustain his life."
Thompson was booked in the Fulton County Jail in June 2022 on a battery charge. According to the independent autopsy—which is based on reviews of jail medical records and incident reports along with the county medical examiner's report—the 35-year-old showed no signs of impairment at this time.
When Thompson died, he was malnourished, dehydrated, and had suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The independent autopsy, conducted by Roger A. Mitchell, a forensic pathologist, suggests that multiple issues contributed to these fatal problems.
For instance, Thompson showed signs of a "severe body insect infestation," says Mitchell's report. There was evidence of an "innumerable number of insects involving head hair, face, facial hair, nose, mouth, chest, pubic area, arms, and legs" and "multiple excoriations involving the arms and legs."
During his time in custody, Thompson dropped from weighing 180 to 148 pounds.
In addition, "a toxicology report appeared to show that Thompson was not receiving medication for his diagnosed schizophrenia disorder at the time of his death," notes NBC News:
During his intake … [Thompson was] prescribed 5mg of Haldol, an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, and 50mg of Benadryl, according to the report.
Thompson's medical report show he was checked five days later, and appeared fine. A provider checked on him again on July 14, 2022, where he "was selectively mute but without distress" and compliant with his medications.
But then there is a "significant gap" between a check-in on July 27 and Sept. 8, 2022, according to Mitchell's report.
"This represents 43 days where there was minimal documentation found within the records that show care being delivered," the report said. "The medication administration log showed that no medication was administered from August 11, 2022 – September 13, 2022."
Thompson's case was "one of the most deplorable in-custody deaths" in history, lawyer Ben Crump, who is representing Thompson's family, told reporters on Monday.
The independent autopsy matches much of what the county medical examiner found. That report stated that Thompson's jail cell had been dirty and bug-infested and that schizoaffective disorder had contributed to his death. "According to the Fulton County Jail Incident report, on Monday September 13, 2022, Mr. Lashawn Thompson was found on the floor unresponsive and slumped over the toilet within his jail cell," notes Mitchell. "He was covered with feces and body lice."
Disturbing photos shared by the Thompson family lawyer show the filthy cell Thompson was found in as well as image of his body at the time of his death.
Louisiana HB466 would ban teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity. The Louisiana law is similar to a measure in Florida that critics dubbed the "don't say gay" law. Texas is also considering a similar proposal.
But Louisiana's bill goes further than the Florida law, notes The Bulwark writer Tim Miller:
A few provisions I want to call out.
- "No teacher, school employee, or other presenter at a school shall engage in the following: (c) Discussing his own sexual orientation or gender identity
This is the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" portion of the legislation. The state of Louisiana is mandating that gay teachers be closeted full stop. Something straight out of the 1970s Anita Bryant playbook.
I think it is of note that as this bill is written a female teacher describing what its like being a woman in the workplace would trigger a violation as would a teacher discussing their heterosexual spouse, but as we know these are not the teachers being targeted (though maybe a creative lawsuit could suss this out).
In the meantime the bill will simply be used to silence and dehumanize gay and trans teachers who can no longer put a picture of their family on their desk of mention their life experience in the context of a normal classroom discussion
- "No teacher, school employee, or other presenter at a school shall engage in the following: (a) Covering the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in any classroom discussion or instruction
This actually reverts to the original language in the Florida bill that was amendment to scrap the matter of "discussion" in favor of only criminalizing "instruction."
A ban on "discussion" of sexual orientation in classroom discussion means not only that teachers can't bring it up but that they can't answer or address issues raised by students. All the way until 12th grade (!!)
You can find the full text of the bill here.
TikTok is suing over Montana's ban. The company filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging a statewide ban that Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, signed into law last week. Montana's "extraordinary and unprecedented measures [are] based on nothing more than unfounded speculation," states the TikTok complaint, alleging that the ban violates the First Amendment.
TikTok is "challenging Montana's unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana," said spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter.
This is the second lawsuit filed over Montana's new law. Last week, the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine filed a suit on behalf of five TikTok content creators.
• New research "adds to growing concerns that recycling isn't as effective of a solution for the plastic pollution problem as many might think," notes The Washington Post's Allyson Chiu. "A recent peer-reviewed study that focused on a recycling facility in the United Kingdom suggests that anywhere between 6 to 13 percent of the plastic processed could end up being released into water or the air as microplastics." (Reason has been covering this for years.)
• Josh Hawley continues to be the worst: "As the deadline for reaching a deal to raise to debt limit nears, Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) says any agreement should include a massive tax hike on Americans," reports Reason's Eric Boehm.
• Do national conservatives get anything right? Reason editors Matt Welch, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Nick Gillespie, and Peter Suderman discuss.
• The Department of Education investigated a Georgia school district over the district's removal of library books about race, gender, and sexuality, suggesting that the removal created a "hostile environment."
• The renovation of D.C.'s Union Station represents "everything that is wrong with infrastructure in America," writes travel blogger Gary Leff.
• In some places, living with friends is still technically illegal.
• More women are joining a lawsuit against Texas's ban on abortion unless a mother's life is at risk. More than a dozen Texas women have now joined the lawsuit, notes the Associated Press.
• "On Monday, European regulators fined Meta $1.3 billion for not adequately protecting user data as it was transferred from Europe to the United States," reports The Washington Post.
• The journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience has retracted 13 papers that included "material that appeared fraudulent."