Terrill Thomas was found dead in a Milwaukee County Jail cell on April 24, 2016. An autopsy later determined the 38-year-old man, who was mentally ill, died of “profound dehydration.” Further investigation into the incident revealed the inmate was denied access to fresh water for nearly one week prior to his death.
Officials confirmed Terrill Thomas was awaiting trial on charges related to two shootings.
According to reports, Terrill’s vehicle was stolen on April 13, 2016. His mother, Celia Thomas, said he was enraged about the theft, and his anger only escalated when he was denied access to surveillance footage that could have revealed the identity of the suspect.
Celia said she contacted authorities in an effort to prevent her son from becoming violent. However, as reported by Fox 6 Now, they could not arrest him because he had not committed a crime.
The following evening, authorities were called back to Celia’s home, where Terrill Thomas opened fire on several men standing outside the home. According to reports, he believed one of the men had stolen his car.
Although nobody was killed in the shooting, authorities confirmed a 25-year-old man was seriously injured and required surgery.
After fleeing the scene, Terrill Thomas went to the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he entered the “high roller” section brandishing a handgun. According to witness reports, he told everyone to lie on the floor. When they did not immediately comply, he began firing shots into the air.
Authorities were subsequently called to the scene on reports of an “active shooter.” Thankfully, Thomas surrendered to the officers without further incident. Officials later confirmed a loaded Glock 9mm and four cartridges were recovered from the scene, but nobody was seriously injured in the shooting.
During a police interview, Terrill Thomas claimed he saw “a whole lot of snakes in the casino.” He suggested that he fired his gun in an attempt to encourage everyone to leave the building to escape the snakes.
Following his arrest, Terrill was incarcerated in the Milwaukee County Jail. As reported by the Journal Sentinel, he was initially placed in a cell in the jail’s mental health unit. However, he was later transferred to solitary confinement in the jail’s disciplinary section.
— The Root (@TheRoot) May 1, 2017
Although it was not officially documented, jail staff reportedly turned off the water supply to Thomas’ cell, as he was being disciplined for leaving the water on and flooding his cell in the mental health unit.
Per jail policy, inmates in the Milwaukee County Jail disciplinary pod are not served drinks with their meals. They are simply expected to drink the water available in their cell. Unfortunately, Terrill Thomas did not have access to any water in his cell. Investigators also noted the inmate was never permitted to leave his cell for the required recreational hour.
Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley said Terrill was clearly suffering from dehydration, as he became listless and largely unresponsive. Although Thomas did not verbally complain, Benkley blamed the inmate’s bipolar disorder, which rendered him “unable to tell people about his basic needs.”
— Dave Stewart (@daveystew20) April 24, 2017
Terrill Thomas was found unresponsive in his cell in the early morning hours of April 24, 2016. Although a correctional officer attempted to perform CPR, the inmate remained unconscious and was subsequently pronounced dead at 1:57 a.m. An autopsy later confirmed the man died of “profound dehydration” and his manner of death was determined to be a homicide.
Nearly one year later, a jury has decided there is enough probable cause to criminally charge seven Milwaukee County Jail employees in Terrill Thomas’ dehydration death. As reported by WTMJ News, District Attorney John Chisholm is now tasked with determining whether he will file formal charges against Jail Commander Maj. Nancy Evans, Lt. Kashka Meadors and Correctional Officers Thomas Laine, James Ramsey-Guy, John Weber, JorDan Johnson, and Dominique Smith.
[Featured Image by Mimesislaw.com]