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Crump says Kaepernick to pay for autopsy for inmate who died in 'appalling conditions'

Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in September 2022. His family's attorney, Michael Harper, said Thompson's body was covered with insect bite marks.
Michael Harper
Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in September 2022. His family's attorney, Michael Harper, said Thompson's body was covered with insect bite marks.

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will pay for an independent autopsy of Lashawn Thompson, a Georgia jail inmate who died last year while covered in insects, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said.

Kaepernick personally reached out to Thompson's family to offer his support, Crump said Thursday.

"We want to thank Colin Kaepernick for helping this family get to the truth and soon," Crump said at a news conference outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, where Thompson had died. Kaepernick did not attend the news conference.

Thompson, 35, was found dead in September 2022 after being held at the jail's psychiatric wing for about three months. At the time, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that the cause of his death was "undetermined," but his family says the jail's deplorable conditions played a role.

Not only was Thompson's cell filthy, but his body was covered in insect bites, including on his ears, mouth and nose, Crump said in a statement.

"It is completely unacceptable to force inmates to live in appalling conditions where they are subjected to insects, grime, and infections," Crump said. "No one should be treated that way."

Attorney Michael Harper, who is also representing Thompson's family, said the inmate was "eaten alive by insects and bed bugs."

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office told NPR member station WABE it has launched an investigation into Thompson's death. The sheriff's office also acknowledged that the facility is "dilapidated and rapidly eroding" — adding that officials have approved $500,000 to address the issue of pests.

Still, his family, along with their attorneys, have called for the closure of the jail and requested a criminal investigation into Thompson's death. His family has not yet filed a lawsuit, but one is coming, according to WABE.

Kaepernick has paid for other autopsies

Last year, Kaepernick launched the Autopsy Initiative, offered through his Know Your Rights Camp organization, to offer free, secondary autopsies to family members of anyone whose death is "police-related."

"The Autopsy Initiative is one important step toward ensuring that family members have access to accurate and forensically verifiable information about the cause of death of their loved one in their time of need," he said.

Kaepernick's publishing agency did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment Friday morning.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.