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Family of Inmate Who Died of Dehydration Reaches $6 Million Settlement

By Jasmine Washington, Ebony

The family of a 33-year-old Black man who died in police custody in Milwaukee has reached a settlement. According to The New York Times, Terrill Thomas’ family will receive $6.75 million from Milwaukee County and Armor Correctional Health Services, the private company that provided health care at the jail where he died in 2016.

Thomas, who had bipolar disorder, was arrested April 15, 2016, on charges that he shot a man and fired gunshots inside a casino.

Erik Heipt, a lawyer for Thomas’ estate, said his client could not advocate for himself or take his prescribed medicine while imprisoned at the Milwaukee County Jail.

According to prosecutors, Thomas was moved into isolation after stuffing a mattress cover into the toilet and flooding his cell. Former jail lieutenant Kashka Meadors instructed former correctional officer James Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water supply to Thomas’ new cell and it was never turned back on.

The New York Times claims Thomas was not given any drinks when he was served an unsavory, brick-shaped dish called “Nutraloaf” that some states have banned. He did not eat the meals provided by the prison and reportedly lost at least 30 pounds. On April 24, he was found dead on the cell’s floor.

An investigation was launched to determine whether or not jail employees should be charged with abuse in the wake of Thomas’ death.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Meadors was sentenced to 60 days in prison after she pleaded to a felony charge of prisoner abuse, last year. Ramsey-Guy was sentenced to 30 days in the House of Correction with work-release privileges.

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Maj. Nancy Evans was charged with felony misconduct in office and obstructing an officer after she was accused of lying during the investigation. She was sentenced to nine months of what the Journal Sentinel said would likely be house arrest.

According to Heipt, the jail has changed several policies, terminated people involved Thomas’ death and ended its partnership with Armor Correctional Health Services since the tragedy.

He said the settlement “gives me hope some positive change will come about from this.”

This article originally appeared in Ebony.

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