The family of a man who died from dehydration in jail back in April 2016 has filed a lawsuit against Milwaukee county and Sheriff David Clarke.
Terrill Thomas, 38, was found dead on the floor of his cell at the Milwaukee County Jail eight days after he was admitted in April 2016.
Three months after an inquest jury recommended charges for seven prison officials, Thomas’ family has filed a lawsuit against both Milwaukee County and Clarke, who runs the jail.
According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, other defendants named in the lawsuit include eight jail supervisors, 14 correctional officers along with medical professionals who worked at the jail at the time of Thomas’ death.
Post-death examination found that three prison officers turned off Thomas’ water as punishment for bad behavior and trying to flood his cell after being admitted to jail. According to the Sentinel, they never restored the water or notified a supervisor of their actions.
Thomas had a history of mental illness and bipolar disorder, but instead of moving him to a special needs union, the officers also allegedly left him without water or adequate food supply from April 17 until his death on April 23, according to the Sentinel.
“The change in Mr. Thomas’ condition was obvious to every jail employee who looked into his cell, including multiple defendants,” reads the lawsuit. “However, not a single one bothered to call for help until it was too late to save Mr. Thomas’ life.”
By the time of his death Thomas had allegedly lost more than 34 pounds.”By April 23 he was too weak to yell or bang on his window. He was simply lying naked on his cell floor, barely able to move, severely dehydrated, literally dying of thirst,” the lawsuit reads.
While lawsuits have alleged Clarke’s negligence towards his duty in running a jail over the last year, Clarke hit the campaign trail with Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, Clarke regularly made appearances endorsing Trump on conservative media networks while decrying President Barack Obama and Black Lives Matter on Twitter.
Clarke’s loyalty to Trump did not go unnoticed in Wisconsin, where many accused him of abandoning law enforcement in his home state to seek fame and power.
“He has to run a law-enforcement department, which has very specific responsibilities, and a city that has had a really, really tough year,” Charlie Sykes, a recently retired conservative Wisconsin radio host who has known Clarke for more than 20 years, told Business Insider. “And when he gets involved, it often has an almost gratuitous, grandstanding sense to it.”
Jails run by Clarke have repeatedly been called out for its inmate treatment — Milwaukee County auditors launched an investigation after four inmates died in custody at the county’s two jails within the span of months.