In our press release dated May 4, 2018, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office (“GCSO”) previously reported the death of Ms. Tasharra Lachelle Thomas who was arrested by the Greensboro Police Department and booked into the GCSO’s Greensboro Detention Center on April 29, 2018 on charges including possession of controlled substances and a parole violation. Shortly before midnight on May 2, 2018, Ms. Thomas was pronounced deceased at the Detention Center after efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
On May 4, 2018, the Sheriff’s Office reported to the public that the circumstances surrounding Ms. Thomas’ death were not deemed suspicious and that the GCSO was cooperating with State Officials from NC DH&HS and awaiting the autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh.
On Friday, August 3, 2018, the Medical Examiner released its autopsy findings and confirmed that Ms. Thomas’ death was due to natural causes.
Specifically, the Medical Examiner concluded that “[b]ased on the autopsy findings, toxicology results, and circumstances surrounding the death, as currently understood, the cause of death is sepsis [i.e., an infection] due to infective endocarditis due to chronic injection drug use. The manner of death is natural.”
The Medical Examiner’s autopsy report is a public record. In that report, the Medical Examiner further described Ms. Thomas’ medical condition as follows:
“Infective endocarditis (IE) is an infection caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart lining, a heart valve or a blood vessel. The infection can lead to damage of the heart valve(s) that in turn causes severe leaking (regurgitation) of blood back through the valve(s) and an inability of the heart to efficiently pump blood to the body. In addition, small pieces of the vegetation can break off and travel through the blood vessels to other parts of the body. These pieces, called "emboli", can cause damage to organs such as the lungs as seen in the decedent [Ms. Thomas].Endocarditis can also cause heart rhythm changes. Risk factors for IE include injection of illicit drugs or prolonged use of intravenous drugs. In cases involving injection drug use, the tricuspid valve is most often affected.”
The final conclusions of the Medical Examiner completely refute misinformation that was previously published by one or more third-parties who claimed that Ms. Thomas had died of a drug overdose or due to narcotic withdrawal while in the Jail. The information reported by those third-parties was clearly false.
The Medical Examiner also publically released its toxicology report on Friday. That report showed residual levels of two controlled substances in Ms. Thomas’ body. The Sheriff’s Office sought clarification n from Dr. Egharauba of the Medical Examiner’s Office and Dr. Haq, the Jail’s Medical Director. Both of these medical doctors concluded that these amounts were consistent with residual (i.e., left-over) levels of drugs in Ms. Thomas’ system due to her history of narcotic use prior to her arrest. These trace amounts were not unusual, said both Doctors, particularly given that Ms. Thomas had only been at the Greensboro Detention Center for several days at the time of her death.
It is clear from the autopsy report that the Medical Examiner did not conclude these residual amounts were a contributing cause to Ms. Thomas’ death.
The Sheriff’s Office has kept Ms. Thomas’ Family informed about these developments. Specifically, the GCSO received the Medical Examiner’s report late last Friday afternoon (August 3rd) and immediately notified Ms. Thomas’ Family by phone and also mailed a copy of the Medical Examiner’s report to the Family. In the early morning hours of May 3rd, representatives of the Sheriff’s Office had also personally visited Ms. Thomas’ Mother (accompanied by the Jail Chaplain) to make the death notification.
All media inquires should be directed to Sheriff Barnes at (336) 641-3694.