David Clarke is Being Sued for the Dehydration Death of an Inmate

by Kelly Macias –

Sheriff David Clarke may finally be getting his comeuppance. After all, the head of the Milwaukee County jail most certainly deserves it. Under his tenure, there have been multiple deaths at the jail and allegations of abuse against pregnant women. The death of one particular inmate, Terrill Thomas, has consistently remained in the news. And, much to Clarke’s dismay, it doesn’t look like this case will go away anytime soon. In May, a jury recommended that criminal charges be filed against seven of the jail’s employees in connection with Thomas’s death. And now, Thomas’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against both Clarke and Milwaukee County.

“The Estate of Terrill Thomas brings this action to hold Defendants accountable for subjecting Mr. Thomas to unconscionable pain and suffering and causing his death,” the suit reportedly says. […]

The suit claims the individual defendants “acted objectively unreasonably and with deliberate indifference” to the risks they created, and that all their actions — and inactions — “were committed with intent, malice and reckless disregard” of Thomas’s rights.

Thomas died of dehydration after corrections officers cut off the water in cell and refused to bring him water or drinks with his food for an entire week. He was also bipolar and upon initial screening, it was recommended that he be placed in the special needs unit. Instead, he was placed in isolation. Its unclear if he was unable to articulate his distress to the officers due to his mental illness but what kind of cruel employees would deny an inmate water for seven straight days?  The suit claims that employees failed to get Thomas help even though his deteriorating condition could be visibly observed.

“The change in Mr. Thomas’ condition was obvious to every jail employee who looked into his cell, including multiple defendants. However, not a single one bothered to call for help until it was too late to save Mr. Thomas’ life,” the suit says, referring to Thomas’s time in isolation.

This is not the first lawsuit regarding Thomas’s death. In March, Thomas’s children and the mother of one of his children sued Clarke, the county, three employees of the jail and Armor Correctional Health Services. It looks like Clarke will busy for a while with this suit. Maybe that’s why that job in Washington with the Department of Homeland Security never materialized—though since no one was ever able to confirm the offer, its possible that Clarke made it up. At any rate, let’s hope someone finds Clarke guilty and that Terrill Thomas gets justice.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos