Milwaukee County has been ordered to pay nearly $7 million to settle a lawsuit with the family of a man who died from dehydration while in police custody.
According to New York Times, Tuesday, the impressive settlement amount was publicly even thought it was finalized back in March and the suit was dismissed in early May.
“The size of the settlement I believe reflected the tremendous pain and suffering that Mr. Thomas endured for days,” said James End, a Milwaukee attorney who represented the family of 38-year-old Terrill Thomas, who died in what is being characterized as “torture.”
On April 14, 2016, Thomas’ family says he was having a mental breakdown when police arrested him for shooting a man in front of his parents’ house. At the time he was suffering from bipolar disorder and was unable to be an advocate for himself in the jail or make sure he took his prescribed medication.
Despite his condition prison officials had water to his cell shut off as punishment after he’d flooded his previous cell by stuffing a mattress in the toilet. Prosecutors say in addition to jail lieutenant Kashka Meadors ordering correctional officer James Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water supply to Thomas’s new cell, he was also denied any drinks with his food.
His water supply was never turned back on and as a direct result he died a week later after losing 34 pounds.
“The amount of the settlement reflects the callous disregard for Terrill Thomas’s life and the magnitude of his pain and suffering,” said Erik Heipt, a Seattle-based attorney who also represented Thomas’ family.
“What happened to him was a form of torture,” Heipt continued. “This sort of atrocity should never happen at an American jail. There’s no excuse for it.”