When Colin Kaepernick heard about Lashawn Thompson’s case, the man who died in a jail cell in Atlanta infested with bed bugs and other insects, he decided to step in and lend his assistance.
After the state’s autopsy ruled Thompson’s death as “undetermined,” Kaepernick has stepped in and is paying for an autopsy for Thompson, according to the civil rights attorney representing the Thompson family, Ben Crump.
This second, independent autopsy is currently underway, and results are expected to be released “within a few weeks,” according to attorney Michael Harper, who’s also representing the family.
As Harper told USA TODAY, “It’s interesting because the whole point of an autopsy is to determine the likely cause of death,” adding that “When you say undetermined, it’s almost like you really didn’t do an autopsy…”
“Obviously in a case like this we want a more concrete answer, if we can get it. I mean, our pathologist may come back and say undetermined as well. But we do want to try to get a more definitive answer,” said Harper.
Last week, Harper said in a statement, “Mr. Thompson was found dead in a filthy jail cell after being eaten alive by insects and bed bugs. The jail cell Mr. Thompson was housed in was not fit for a diseased animal. He did not deserve this.”
At a press conference on Thursday, Crump said “We want to thank Colin Kaepernick for helping this family get to the truth and soon,” and also noted that “It is completely unacceptable to force inmates to live in appalling conditions where they are subjected to insects, grime, and infections…No one should be treated that way.”
This isn’t the first time the civil rights activist has helped victims of police violence and their families. The Autopsy Initiative arm of Kaepernick’s organization, the Know Your Rights Camp, has one primary objective—“to provide a second autopsy free-of-charge for victims’ families who have lost their loved ones due to a police-related death. The services offered through the Initiative include the completion of a second autopsy, disclosure of preliminary findings, and issuance of the final autopsy report.”
Roger Mitchell who is one the Initiative’s board-certified forensic pathologists and Howard University’s chair of pathology, said there is no other program like this, “Subsidizing autopsies for those who died in connection with the criminal legal system,” continuing with “that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
A second, independent autopsy typically costs around $7,000, and Thompson’s autopsy “will bring the total Kaepernick’s non-profit has paid for to more than 40.”