Prosecutors: Milwaukee jail withheld water as punishment

Saul Uribe of the Sheboygan chapter of Voces de la Frontera motivates his fellow marchers

"It should have been the toilet water, just the toilet water", Lt. Kashka Meadors of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

As the district attorney's office decides whether or not to press charges, Thomas' 21-year-old son, Terrill Barnes, expressed relief at the jury's recommendation, saying it provided a small measure of justice, according to his attorney Walter Stern.

A Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reporter present at the inquest wrote that prosecutors showed a six-person jury how, along with policy violations and disregard for Thomas' mental illness, "inattentiveness by corrections officers led to Thomas' death".

"I don't know if I could have prevented it", Lt. Meadors testified last week, referring to Thomas' death.

Jail employees and several others testified throughout the week, sometimes giving conflicting reports of what happened during the week leading up to Thomas' death, according to CNN affiliate WITI, which was in court. Evidence reportedly showed those subsequent water shut offs were also never documented as being turned back on.

"It ought to be noted, but it is not noted in the logs like it should be". The log says Lt. Crystalina Montano ordered that, but on the stand she said she didn't know if that happened.

Prosecutors say that after being denied water for a week, Thomas died of dehydration in his Milwaukee County Jail cell.

Marchers rally for better pay while moving along their route in Milwaukee on Monday
Marchers rally for better pay while moving along their route in Milwaukee on Monday

A prosecutor called the practice "torture", which was doubly shocking because it followed the death of Thomas. Detective Kyle Mrozinski told the court that inmates housed near Thomas recalled him begging for water.

"I could tell he was getting weaker", Marcus Berry told the paper.

Sheriff's officials have said Thomas' water was shut off after he stuffed a mattress in a toilet to flood his previous cell. The lawsuit claims the defendants deliberately failed to appropriate medical attention for Thomas and deliberately and willfully failing to render medical care.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office has not returned CNN's request to comment and has been largely silent on Thomas' death.

On April 14, 2016, Thomas was arrested and taken to the jail on charges that he fired shots at a man, then drove to a casino and fired two rounds while inside the building. All charges related to his arrest were dismissed after his death. He is not required to charge based on the jury's recommendation.

Hank Balson, a lawyer for the Thomas estate, said he expected Chisholm would follow up with charges.

Clarke, who often appears on conservative news outlets and spoke at the Republican National Conventions on behalf of Donald Trump's presidential bid, has said the media and Democrats lied about the jail. 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.



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