Mentally Disabled Man Terrill Thomas Died of Dehydration in Jail, Family Awarded $6.75 Million

Terrill Thomas, who was only 38 years old, begged for water for days after Officer James Ramsey-Guy shut off all water to his cell, as ordered by Lt. Kashka Meadors of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

But the water was never to come. Thomas, who was mentally disabled, died of dehydration after seven days on April 24, 2016.

Thomas’ family was just awarded $6.75 million in a settlement with Milwaukee County and others involved in his death in one of the largest in history for a federal civil rights case involving an in-custody death, according to one of the estate’s lawyers, Ed Budge.

It all began on April 15, 2016, when Thomas was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and felony firearms violations after he fired shots in a casino. (All charges were dropped after his death.) After he was put in a cell, he stopped up his toilet and the cell flooded.

So Meadors told Ramsey-Guy to shut off all of the water to his cell. But according to a criminal complaint, Ramsey-Guy neither logged the action nor informed other corrections officers that the water had been turned off.

Other inmates testified that they heard Thomas begging for water. The jail officials’ excuse was that they were “unaware” all of the water to his cell had been turned off and only the water to the toilet should have been stopped.

Neither Meadors nor Ramsey-Guy received significant jail time for the death of Thomas, according to CNN.

Meadors and Ramsey-Guy were charged with felony neglect, and Evans faced a count each of felony misconduct and misdemeanor obstruction. But Earlier this year, Meadors was sentenced to only 60 days at the Milwaukee County House of Correction and was granted work release privileges. Ramsey-Guy was sentenced to 30 days with the same privileges.

Then-jail administrator Nancy Evans, who was accused of covering up key portions of the surveillance video from Thomas’ cell that showed the water being shut off, was sentenced to nine months in jail in March. Evans was the administrator for two years and in that short time, there were seven in-custody deaths under her watch.


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