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Family of solitary confinement inmate who died of dehydration accuses jail of torture

by Ellen Killoran

Fellow inmates “heard his cries for water for days,” the lawsuit alleges

The family of a Milwaukee County Jail inmate who died in solitary confinement after he was allegedly denied water has filed a lawsuit against Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who oversees the jail, and corrections officers.

According to Fox 6 Now, the federal civil lawsuit alleges that Terrill Thomas was subjected to torture the led to his dehydration death on April 24, 2016. The medical examiner said Thomas died of “profound dehydration” and reportedly ruled the death a homicide, but prosecutors are still considering whether to file felony charges.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit charges that jail staff ignored Thomas’s pleas for water while he was in solitary confinement, and that fellow inmates “overheard his cries for water for days.” Jail staff reportedly told inmates that they had turned off the water in Thomas’s cell because he had flooded another cell. It is unclear if water was offered in another form.

Thomas was arrested and taken into custody after he shot a man and fired a gun inside a casino. Thomas’s family is claiming he was experiencing a mental breakdown at the time. He was hospitalized briefly before being cleared for transport to the county jail.

Sheriff David Clark, who reportedly requested an independent investigation of the death, gave a statement to the Associated Press that did not address Thomas’s death or the lawsuit.

I have nearly 1000 inmates. I don’t know all their names but is this the guy who was in custody for shooting up the Potawatomi Casino causing one man to be hit by gunfire while in possession of a firearm by a career convicted felon?The media never reports that in stories about him. If that is him, then at least I know who you are talking about.

Four people died at the Milwaukee County Jail last year, including a newborn baby.

 

Photo: Milwaukee County Jail

Ellen is a seasoned journalist and former media & entertainment reporter with a taste for true crime. Formerly a senior editor at IBTimes, her work has appeared in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Maxim, NYMag, Indiewire, and more. She co-produced the HBO documentary "Youth Knows No Pain" and appeared in a documentary series that aired alongside the Lifetime movie "Manson's Lost Girls."