Autopsy for New Orleans inmate shows signs of sickle cell disease, ‘no evidence of recent trauma’ _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- CJ Thomas, 3, clutches a picture of his father Calvin who died while at OPP. Turner's girlfriend Latasha Rogers , Turner's daughter Thai Thomas, 9, and sister Le'Mona Deal are behind CJ.

A New Orleans inmate who died in the hospital over the weekend had developed pneumonia in both lungs and other complications that appeared to stem from a long history of sickle cell disease, according to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office.

An autopsy Tuesday did not pinpoint a cause or manner of death, said Coroner Jeffrey Rouse. But it revealed that the inmate, 34-year-old Calvin Thomas, suffered from “bilateral pleural effusions, a thickened heart wall, and a grossly enlarged spleen consistent with the history that Mr. Thomas suffered from sickle cell anemia,” Rouse said.

While the case remains under investigation, Rouse noted that the autopsy turned up “no evidence of recent trauma.”

Family members told The New Orleans Advocate earlier this week that Thomas had been stabbed inside the city’s new jail last month, and that he had complained of pain in his arm and chest before being hospitalized a week ago.

Thomas died Sunday morning at University Medical Center.

“There was evidence of therapeutic intervention at the hospital and healed scars but no actively infected wounds,” Rouse said. “Until a review of pending biological testing and relevant medical records is complete, his death remains under investigation.”

Thomas, who also was known as Calvin Deal, had been booked in September on robbery charges.

On Wednesday, Thomas’ sister, Le’Mona Deal, said she would continue to seek answers about her brother’s death. She said a candlelight memorial has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at South Robertson and Erato streets.

“I still need a paper trail. I still need to see if he was neglected,” Deal said. “He’s been taken away from his children.”

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