Colin Kaepernick to pay for autopsy in Ga. jail death, attorney says

Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist, will pay for an independent autopsy to reexamine the death of Lashawn Thompson, who died last year in a Fulton County jail cell infested with insects, attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference Thursday.

Thompson’s death in September sparked an outrage last week when his family released documents and graphic photos describing the squalid conditions of the Atlanta jail where he was kept. A report by the Fulton County medical examiner said that Thompson had an “extremely severe” infestation of small insects across his body but that his cause of death was undetermined.

Attorneys for Thompson’s family pledged to reexamine his death. Kaepernick will foot the bill for an independent autopsy, Crump said.

“We want to thank Colin Kaepernick for helping [Thompson’s] family get to the truth,” he added.

Kaepernick’s publishing agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon. But Thompson’s would not be the first death of the former quarterback has helped investigate. In 2022, Kaepernick launched an initiative to provide free autopsies to families whose loved ones have suffered police-related deaths. The program had funded 42 autopsies as of its first anniversary, Sports Illustrated reported.

Man died after being ‘eaten alive’ by bugs in filthy jail cell, family says

Thursday’s news conference, held outside the Fulton County Jail as supporters rallied around Crump and waved signs calling for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to face punishment, following a wider fallout from news of the conditions reported at the jail.

Three leaders at the jail, including the chief jailer, resigned the weekend after Thompson’s family released details of his death, a Fulton County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson announced Monday. The sheriff’s office, which runs the jail, also intends to change medical vendors for the jail and has transferred hundreds of detainees out of the facility to other counties, the spokesperson said.

On Wednesday, human rights subcommittee chair Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) launched an inquiry with the Department of Justice into the oversight of Fulton County Jail and two other county jails, citing reporting of Thompson’s death.

In a statement following the news conference, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat called Thompson’s death “inexcusable” and said the Fulton County Jail has been in “crisis mode” for decades. He described the jail as dilapidated and overcrowded and called for the construction of a new facility.

“The type of infestations that contributed to Mr. Thompson’s death is going to be a recurring problem in a prison where hundreds of prisoners do not have cells and have to sleep on the floor,” Labat said.

Labat also apologized to Thompson’s family and acknowledged that the sheriff’s office was slow to respond to his death.

Brad McRae, Thompson’s brother, said at the news conference that his family received no response to repeated inquiries about Thompson after being informed of his death.

“Everybody needs to wake up, and somebody needs to be held accountable,” McRae said.

Atlanta attorney Michael Harper said last week that Thompson’s family would file a lawsuit once they received the results of their examination into Thompson’s death.

“As soon as we get the results of that independent autopsy, we’re going to come right back here and let people know,” Crump said Thursday.

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