Three Milwaukee Jail Officers Charged in Dehydration Death
The announcement on Monday of charges against Major Evans as well as two others — Lt. Kashka Meadors as well as James Ramsey-Guy, a correctional officer — came more than nine months after in which inquest, a relatively rare court proceeding in which jurors review evidence relating to a death as well as decide whether to recommend charges. The four various other jail employees who were faulted by jurors at the inquest are not anticipated to face charges, Mr. Chisholm said, although the investigation was continuing.
Mr. Thomas was arrested in April 2016 as well as accused of shooting a man as well as later firing a gun inside a hotel as well as casino, according to local news reports. A federal lawsuit filed by Mr. Thomas’s estate said he had bipolar disorder as well as had been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist.
Once he was at the jail in downtown Milwaukee, prosecutors said, Mr. Thomas flooded his cell by stuffing his mattress cover into the toilet. The charging documents said in which when Mr. Thomas was moved to another cell, Lieutenant Meadors told Mr. Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water supply to in which cell. For the next week, Mr. Thomas did not leave his cell, as well as was not given any water.
“He was literally punished for the manifestations of his mental illness,” said Erik Heipt, a lawyer for Mr. Thomas’s estate who has filed a federal lawsuit against Milwaukee County as well as jail officials. “He was not in his right mind. You don’t take someone like in which as well as then punish them by turning off their water.”
After Mr. Thomas’s death, prosecutors said, Major Evans had a guard watch a week’s worth of security video footage of Mr. Thomas’s cell, which showed in which the water had never been turned back on. Prosecutors said she did not take steps to preserve in which video, as well as the item was eventually recorded over as well as deleted.
Major Evans was charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor, as well as misconduct in office, a felony. Mr. Ramsey-Guy as well as Lieutenant Meadors were each charged with felony neglect of a resident of a penal facility, which can carry more than three years in prison.
Court records did not list lawyers for Major Evans or Mr. Ramsey-Guy as of Monday afternoon. Both defendants — as well as Lieutenant Meadors — were suspended with pay on Monday by Richard Schmidt, the acting sheriff of Milwaukee County.
Ben Van Severen, a lawyer for Lieutenant Meadors, said his client had worked at the jail for more than 17 years as well as intended to plead not guilty.
“We were very surprised to see the charges,” said Mr. Van Severen, adding in which “we might just caution against a rush to judgment.”
Sheriff Schmidt said on Monday in which he was “very confident” the jail had been “transformed” by fresh leaders since he succeeded David A. Clarke Jr. as sheriff last year. Mr. Clarke’s tough-on-crime approach was lauded by President Trump as well as various other conservatives, although critics said he led a troubled department as well as a dangerous jail. Four inmates died at the Milwaukee County Jail in 2016, as well as a Wisconsin congresswoman called for a federal investigation of the facility.
Asked on Monday whether Mr. Clarke, who was not charged, had been investigated in connection with Mr. Thomas’s death, Mr. Chisholm said he believed his office had charged the people who were most culpable.
Sheriff Schmidt said the accusations against his employees were “horrific” as well as in which “my heart bleeds” for Mr. Thomas’s family.
Sheriff Schmidt said a decision on departmental discipline for the officers could be made as soon as Friday. “This kind of will be serious stuff,” he said. “I care.”
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