Three senior staff members from Milwaukee County Jail have been charged over the death of a mentally ill inmate who died of dehydration.
Terrill Thomas, a 38 year-old with bipolar disorder, died on April 24, 2016, after he was held in solitary confinement for seven days without water, it is claimed. Other inmates told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his water supply was turned off as a form of punishment.
Prosecutors have charged Milwaukee County Sheriff's Major Nancy Evans and two staffers, Jail Lt. Kashka Meadors and correctional officer James Ramsey-Guy with neglecting an inmate—a felony that is punishable with up to three-and-a-half years in prision.
The charge came almost a year after prosecutors provided evidence and the jury recommended that the staff should be liable.
"Defendant Evans' course of conduct during the investigation into Mr. Thomas' death, of withholding information from her superiors, lying to her supervisors, failing to preserve evidence, repeatedly lying to law enforcement investigators and lying at the inquest, constituted misconduct in public office," the charging document said.
Prosecutors viewed four days of video surveillance and statements given to investigators by Evans, who oversaw daily opperations of the jail. Evans subordinate, Capt. George Gold, also watched the footage.
Gold said that the video indicated that the inmate's water was turned off when first placed in the cell and remained disconnected until his death seven days later.
Meadors has previously testified that she ordered corrections officer Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water after Thomas flooded his previous cell. But she said that it was only supposed to be until the inmate settled down. "I was under the impression that it was taken care of," she said during the inquest.
Thomas was arrested on April 14 2016 after being charged with reckless endangerment and felony firearms violations after shooting a man in front of his parents' home and firing a weapon inside a casino.
The Milwakee County Jail has a history of failing to fix "appauling" conditions in accordance with an agreement betwene the country, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Legal Aid Society.
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