Three Milwaukee County jail employees have been charged in the dehydration death Terrill Thomas, a 38-year-old man who died in custody in April of 2016.
Thomas was arrested on April 16, 2016 and died around a week later.
He suffered from bipolar disorder and had previously flooded a cell. After the flooding incident, jail staffers were ordered to turn off his water supply.
Surveillance video does not show the water being turned back on. Thomas died from dehydration.
The former commander of the jail, Nancy Evans, has been charged with obstructing an officer and felony misconduct in office. It’s alleged that after Thomas died, Evans ordered a lower ranking captain to watch the surveillance video to find out if his water had been turned back on.
It’s said that the officer reported back to Evans that no one had opened the water valve cabinet, since the water was shut off, until after his death.
Evans is being accused of doing nothing to preserve the footage, which was overwritten and permanently lost.
It’s also said that during an investigation into the death, Evans was asked to look into why Thomas didn’t have access to water in his cell. She never mentioned that the surveillance video showed the water being turned off and never turned back on or that she had ordered someone to watch the video.
Evans is facing more than four years behind bars while the other two former staffers are facing about three-and-a-half years for felony neglect of a resident in a penal facility.
Lieutenant Kashka Meadors ordered that Thomas’ water access be turned off until he behaved, which violated a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s regulation that inmates have continuous access to water.
It’s alleged that she also never took adequate steps to ensure Thomas’ water was turned back on and never reported the shut off to her immediate supervisor.
James Lee Ramsey-Guy, the third staffer charged, is accused of turning off the water and not notifying anyone on the shift after his.
An inquest jury last April had recommended that seven deputies be charged. Each felony carries a maximum of three years and six months behind bars.