Wis. Inmate’s Death by Dehydration Ruled a Homicide

Thirty-eight-year-old Terrill Thomas, who had bipolar disorder, begged for drinking water while being held in a Milwaukee jail, authorities say. 

Terrill Thomas with his son at his son’s high school graduation in 2014
Terrill Thomas with his son at his son’s high school graduation in 2014 Family photo via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The death of Terrill Thomas, a mentally ill black man who died of dehydration after begging for drinking water while being held in a Milwaukee jail, has been ruled a homicide, a county medical examiner revealed Thursday, Reuters reports.

Thomas was found dead April 24, nine days after he was arrested as a suspect in the shooting of a man at a casino. Thomas had bipolar disorder and was being held in solitary confinement because of the charge against him and his behavior in jail, the medical examiner’s office said, according to the wire.

In July the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that other inmates near Thomas heard him begging for water just days before his death. The water faucet in his cell had reportedly been turned off, with corrections officers reportedly telling inmates that Thomas’ water had been turned off because he had flooded his other cell and his behavior was erratic.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation. The Milwaukee Police Department is conducting an independent investigation into the in-custody death.

Thomas’ family told the Sentinel that the 38-year-old father had a history of mental illness and seemed to have been grappling with a mental breakdown at the time of the shooting for which he had been arrested. He died while awaiting a court-ordered psychiatric examination.

Read more at Raw Story and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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