Terrill Thomas, a 38-year old man, died in solitary confinement after being locked up with no water. It took all of eight days for this mentally-ill man to die of severe dehydration.
He was taken to Milwaukee County Jail after being belligerent and loud. His behavior was because of an untreated mental illness.
The whole time he was in solitary, he never thought to ask for medical attention. Without water, he grew weak and quiet. Thomas lost over 35lbs.
On the eighth day in solitary, he was found dead on the jail cell floor.
The prosecutors on his behalf public ally aired the circumstances revolving his death and then proceeded to launch an inquest into the details surrounding his demise. Inquests are not common and are only used in extreme cases of misconduct.
They will be looking into whether or not it was the inattentiveness of the correctional officers that led to his death or what role the mental illness played.
From JS Online:
In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley said surveillance videos show three corrections officers cut off the water in Thomas’ cell – a disciplinary measure after Thomas flooded another cell – and never turned it back on. The same officers never documented the water cutoff or notified supervisors, leaving fellow corrections officers in the dark.
“This order to shut off Mr. Thomas’ water was highly irregular and contrary to standard operating procedure in the jail,” Benkley said.
Benkley added that Thomas apparently didn’t receive water or other drinks along with his food. Jail policies called for inmates to drink water from their sinks — which Thomas couldn’t do.
In theory, Thomas could have caused a commotion over his lack of water. But Benkley said the evidence will show Thomas’ bipolar disorder – which the jail’s staff knew about – made it apparent he “was unable to tell people about his basic needs.” Thomas was in jail following an arrest on charges that he shot a man, drove to the Potawatomi casino and fired two rounds inside the building. Family members said he was in the throes of a mental breakdown.