Three Milwaukee Jail Staffers Charged in Inmate Death

The former commander of the Milwaukee County Jail and two other employees were charged with felonies over the death of inmate Terrill Thomas. Water was cut off to his cell, a common but prohibited practice in the jail, says a criminal complaint.

The former commander of the Milwaukee County Jail and two other jail staffers were charged Monday in connection with the 2016 dehydration death of Terrill Thomas, with the complaint saying guards “abandoned” him to die, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Sheriff’s Maj. Nancy Evans, 48, is charged with felony misconduct in office and obstructing an officer. Jail Lt. Kashka Meadors, 40, and correctional officer James Ramsey-Guy, 38, are each charged with neglecting an inmate, a felony offense. Meadors gave the order to shut off the water, Ramsey-Guy physically cut all water to Thomas’ cell, and Evans lied about the subsequent investigation, the complaint says.

All three were suspended with pay Monday and Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt said discipline would be handed down Friday. Thomas, a 38-year-old inmate with bipolar disorder, went seven days without water in solitary confinement before his death. He lost 34 pounds in eight days in the jail. A Journal Sentinel investigation exposed details of Thomas’ death,  including incomplete investigative work by the Milwaukee Police Department, which had neglected to interview inmates who witnessed Thomas’ death. District Attorney John Chisholm’s office is still investigating the role of medical provider Armor Correctional Health Services in the dehydration death. The practice of cutting off water to an inmate is against the jail’s written regulations, but Ramsey-Guy said it was common practice. Within three weeks of Thomas’ death, water was cut to two other inmates’ cells. “The incidents demonstrate an institutional practice of punitively shutting off water to unruly inmates,” the complaint says. Since Thomas’ death, seven inmates have died in the jail, three between August and December 2017.