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Inmate Died After Going Seven Days Without Water

Nairobi Cutts, Writer

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Inmate Marcus Berry said that “starting on Monday and every day after that, Terrill Thomas asked every correctional officer for water because the water in his cell was shut off,” said Detective Kyle Mrozinski of the Milwaukee Police Department, who is also investigating the 38-year-old’s death.
Despite those claims, an assistant who ordered Thomas’ water cut off says her instructions weren’t followed, but other jailers say they didn’t know Thomas went a week without water. Thomas died April 24, 2016, and exactly one year later detectives launched an investigation to determine if anyone is criminally responsible for his death. Three other people, including a newborn, have died in the Milwaukee County Jail since Thomas’ April 2016 death. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office called Thomas’ death a homicide in September, causing more questions about what happened and why.

Jail workers and several others argued throughout all last week, sometimes giving confliction reports of what happened during the week leading up to Thomas’ death. “It should have been the toilet water, just the toilet water,” Lt. Kashka Meadors of the Milwaukee Country Sheriff’s Office said Thursday. “I instructed to have the toilet water cut off because he was flooding the toilet.” Lt. Jeffery Andrykowski, who was working the day Thomas was found dead in his “solitary confinement cell” said that turning the water off in a cell as a punishment was against jail protocol. Like many other officers, Andrykowski denied knowing that Thomas had no access to water. “No one informed me that his water was off,” Officer Thomas Laine testified.

Thomas’ family has filed a 25-page civil complaint against Sheriff David Clarke, who manages the jail, Milwaukee County and other jail officials. Among the accusation in the lawsuit the defendants voluntary and willfully failed to provide Thomas medical care. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has not returned anyone’s request to comment and has been largely silent on Thomas’ death.

Thomas was arrested on April 15, 2016 and charged with reckless endangerment and felony firearms violations after he fired shots in a local casino. All charges related to his arrest were dismissed after his death. The investigation continues threw out the week while the prosecutor’s office continues to call witnesses before a jury. After witnesses testify and all the evidence is presented, the jury will determine whether there’s enough evidence to file criminal charges, and then make a recommendation.

Prosecutors are not required to follow the jury’s recommendation. As the inquest continues, groups are planning to rally in Milwaukee to call for Sheriff Clarke’s withdrawal. His opponents are critical of his management of jail, as well as his desire to join the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which essentially deputizes local law enforcement agencies to operate as federal immigration agents. Before Terrill Thomas died from dehydration in a Milwaukee County Jail cell, inmates say they heard him repeatedly beg jail guards for water, an investigator said during an inquest into Thomas’ death.

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Inmate Died After Going Seven Days Without Water