Be Brave, Speak Loud, Seek Truth
Justin was 20 years old when his life ended tragically.
His parents received the call all parents dread. The call that shakes you to the core. The call that drops you on your knees and makes you wonder if you'd ever wake up from this nightmare. The call where the person at the other end of the phone tells you "He is not doing well...He is in the ICU". That call came in on November 16, 2017. His parents flew across country and continents to find their son intubated and on life support. Justin died from severe brain damage on November 18, 2017.
At 20, Justin was a young man full of potential, chasing after life, and learning lessons through trial and error. His big smile and larger-than-life attitude made heads turn. As great as he was, he was not perfect. While navigating through the ever-challenging transition to adulthood, he made a mistake. This particular mistake landed him in jail on a marijuana-related conviction. He took responsibility for this mistake and was serving his time. This charge did not define him, or cause his loved ones to care any less about him. It certainly was not, and should not have been the death sentence that it was.
The State of Oklahoma where he died while in custody, did not perform an autopsy on Justin. It does not appear they conducted any meaningful investigation on the circumstances of his death, which they are refusing to release to the family. Countless people die in jail while in custody, many under suspicious circumstances, and some for reasons that will never be known. In Oklahoma, that seems to be a reoccurring theme. A quick Internet search under “death in Oklahoma jails” will return dozens of results.
There are many media reports of suspicious deaths in Oklahoma jails and the ACLU of Oklahoma has been pushing for accountability and reform. Public officials seem to be indifferent to the widespread problem. The links below will show you the obstacles his family is facing; there is still much to be done.
Justin Thao was a son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend. This beautiful human being was killed in an Oklahoma jail under circumstances that are still uncertain. Officials have not allowed his family to obtain any information, including their request to have the family’s forensic pathologist examine the cell he was allegedly in at the time of his discovery. Justin, like many who died of suspicious jail death, was found 'unresponsive.'
Everyone who knew Justin does not believe that he would commit suicide. While incarcerated, he talked to his family daily and he wrote about the dreams and future he looked forward to once being released. Not only do we owe it to Justin to find out what really happened, but to countless others who have died without a voice. The family has paid a private forensic pathologist to do an autopsy, and the findings remain unclear and suspicious due to the obstacles barring them from pursuing their quest for justice. Legal assistance to dig deep into this murky water and further investigation will be necessary. It can only be done with your support.
Please help the JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN fund in furtherance of all of our human rights. Support this effort to bring Justice for Justin and in turn, Justice for the voiceless. Let's hold those responsible for his death accountable. Transparency is paramount.
This can only be done with your generous donation, where every dollar counts. If you cannot donate, your help is still needed for our petition, where every signature matters to demand a probe into the investigation or lack of investigation into Justin's death.
Please like and follow Justin's story on:
Media about jail death in Oklahoma:
- this GOFUNDME is created by Jon Thao on behalf of May Kou Heu, my mother for my brother Justin Thao #Justice4Justin
- Weiling Fu
- Renata Brillinger
- Kimmy Yang
- Kongfeng Vang
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