Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke is one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal Black supporters. However, what is most important to know about him is, according to The Washington Post, at least four people died in the Milwaukee County jail that he managed from April 2015 to November 2016 — including a newborn baby whose birth occurred unbeknownst to staff. In a separate incident, his workers were accused of refusing to give water for a week to an inmate, who later died.
Now, the family of one of those victims is getting a massive settlement.
According to The Associated Press, Milwaukee County paid nearly $7 million to settle a lawsuit from the family of Terrill Thomas “whose dehydration death in jail was described by his attorneys as torture.” The settlement went public this week but it was finalized in March.
Attorneys for the family said, “The size of the settlement I believe reflected the tremendous pain and suffering that Mr. Thomas endured for days.” The attorneys also said it is one of the largest ever in Wisconsin for a jail death.
Terrill Thomas, 38, was having a mental breakdown he was arrested on April 14, 2016. He allegedly shot a man in front of his parents’ home and then fire a gun inside a casino.
While in jail, his water turned off because he supposedly flooded another cell by stuffing a mattress in the toilet. The Associated Press reports, “The water was never turned back on and he died a week later. He lost 34 pounds (15.5 kilograms), or 10 percent of his body weight, during the week he was deprived of water, according to the lawsuit.”
Erik Heipt, a Seattle-based attorney who also represented Thomas’ family, said, “What happened to him was a form of torture. This sort of atrocity should never happen at an American jail. There’s no excuse for it.”
The massive settlement will be split between Thomas’ six children (four are minors). The lawsuit against the jail, which, again, happened on David Clarke’s watch, is now dismissed.
Our condolences go out to Terrill Thomas’ family.