An inmate was found unresponsive in his Memphis jail cell covered in insect bites before later dying at a hospital, his family said.
Now, charges have been filed in the death of Ramon McGhee, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office announced.
McGhee, 42, was “infested with insects and covered in bites” when he arrived at a hospital on Jan. 10, the family’s attorney Ben Crump shared in a news release, which described his condition as “truly chilling.”
“It was devastating to see him on life support,” McGhee’s mother said through tears at a news conference.
McGhee died on Jan. 12, according to state officials.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, began investigating the incident.
The sheriff’s office called McGhee’s death “completely unacceptable” in a Feb. 8 news release.
“Unfortunately, directions concerning his cell cleaning and personal hygiene were disregarded, and crucial information was withheld,” Shelby County officials said in a news release.
The sheriff called the neglect of responsibility “intolerable.”
At a Feb. 9 news conference with McGhee’s family, Crump read a report from an independent autopsy conducted on McGhee’s body.
Medical examiners found his death resulted from complications related to severe neglect, malnutrition, dehydration, and insect infestation, Crump said.
He added the autopsy showed the manner of death was homicide.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s office opened a criminal investigation, as well as an internal investigation into civil matters.
McClatchy News reached out to the sheriff’s office and district attorney on Feb. 9 to learn about the charges filed but did not immediately receive a response.
McGhee’s mother described her son as a creative person who loved drawing and playing basketball growing up.
“They just don’t care, they just look at them as criminals with no rights,” his mother said. “But I think anybody should have rights. They’re in there for a purpose, they’re serving their time. But it shouldn’t be upon anybody else to inflict more additional pain on anyone.”
Shelby County case records showed McGhee had been jailed on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.
The sheriff’s office said it is restructuring the security operations team, among making other “significant changes,” that they hope will work to restore the public’s faith in the agency.
Crump called on the federal government to intervene in the jail’s operations so no one else dies a death like McGhee’s.