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Three Milwaukee County jail staff members charged in dehydration death of inmate Terrill Thomas

Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 13:19:06-05

MILWAUKEE -- Three Milwaukee County jail staff members have been criminally charged in connection with the death of Terrill Thomas, an inmate who died of dehydration in 2016.

Jail Commander Maj. Nancy Evans, Lt. Kashka Meadors, and Correctional Officer James Ramsey-Guy were all charged Monday and will appear in court Monday afternoon.

Thomas, 38, died April 24, 2016 while in solitary confinement. He was booked into jail on shooting charges. His attorney says his water was shut off for six days before his death.

Last year, a jury determined that seven members of the jail staff who may have played a role in Thomas' death should be charged. Along with Evans, Meadors, and Ramsey-Guy, the seven included Correctional Officers Thomas Laine, John Weber, JorDan Johnson and Dominique Smith. 

Meadors gave the order to turn off Thomas' water after Thomas flooded his cell in the mental health unit. He was transferred to the disciplinary unit and that's when Meadors ordered Officer Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water to Thomas' cell until he "calms down." 

That action was never logged in any official jail log, or mentioned in any staff briefing, according to testimony. As a result, Thomas' water was never turned back on. 

Jail policy states that an inmate should have 24/7 access to water in their cell. While in the disciplinary pod, inmates are only given a meal with a drink on Sundays. Every other day, inmates are given something called Nutraloaf, a food served in prisons and jails across the country. When given Nutraloaf, the inmates are not given anything to drink and can only drink water from the sink in their cell. 

Testimony revealed that while his water was shut off, correctional officers didn't provide Thomas with anything to drink. Several officers testified that they didn't know his water had been shut off since the action wasn't logged.