The Latest: Prosecutor: No timeline on charges in jail death
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on an inquest into the dehydration death of an inmate in the Milwaukee County jail (all times local):
A Milwaukee prosecutor says he has no timeline for deciding whether to charge several county jail employees over the death of an inmate who went seven days without water.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm also says he’s not bound by the jury’s recommendation Monday that seven staffers be charged in the death of 38-year-old Terrill Thomas. He said he could charge more people — or fewer.
Thomas died in April 2016 of dehydration. The water to his cell had been turned off because he had flooded his last cell by jamming a mattress in the toilet, and it was never turned back on.
Jurors recommended charges for abuse of a resident of a penal facility.
Chisholm says he thinks the jury saw a “clear lack of oversight” over inmate care.
A jury has recommended criminal charges against seven Milwaukee County jail staffers over the dehydration death of an inmate who went seven days without water.
The jury’s recommendation Monday comes after a six-day inquest that included testimony from jail staff and evidence from county prosecutors. The jury found probable cause to believe the staffers committed the crime of abuse of a resident of a penal facility in the death of 38-year-old Terrill Thomas on April 24, 2016.
They recommended charges against two jail supervisors and five correctional officers.
It’s up to prosecutors whether to file charges. Thomas’ death was one of four at the jail last year but the only one where charges are being considered.
The inquest highlighted errors surrounding Thomas’ death, including the failure to log that his water had been turned off.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke oversees the jail, but inquest did not target him.
A Milwaukee jury is deliberating whether to recommend charges against sheriff’s office employees for an inmate’s dehydration death last year.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office wrapped up its inquest Monday after six days of evidence and testimony on the events leading up to Terrill Thomas’ death in April 2016.
District Attorney John Chisholm told jurors that jail staffers had many “missed opportunities” to help Thomas during the seven days the 38-year-old spent alone in his cell with his water shut off.
Milwaukee’s medical examiner ruled Thomas died of “profound dehydration.”
Sheriff’s officials have said Thomas’ water was shut off after he stuffed a mattress in a toilet to flood his previous cell.
Milwaukee prosecutors say the county sheriff’s office continued using water deprivation as a form of punishment at its jail even after an inmate had died of dehydration.
The District Attorney’s Office presented jail logs to jurors Monday showing two inmates were disciplined by having water to their cells shut off in the weeks after Terrill Thomas died.
Prosecutors say the 38-year-old Thomas died April 24, 2016, after he was deprived of water for seven days because he had flooded a cell.
Prosecutors are conducting an inquest for a jury to determine whether criminal charges against jail staff are warranted.
Sheriff David Clarke runs the jail. He has repeatedly declined to comment on Thomas’ death aside from highlighting the inmate’s criminal record.
The prosecution expects to conclude its case later Monday.