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Terrill Thomas was found dead in his Milwaukee County Jail cell on April 24, 2016. He had been charged in connection with a shooting in April.

Now his death is being called a homicide.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the jail shut off Thomas’ water for six days, leading him to die of dehydration. Some inmates recall his repeated requests for water.

According the some of the other inmates’ interviews, the guards justified turning off his water on account that he flooded his previous cell and was acting erratically. Thomas was said to suffer from bipolar disorder.


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The Milwaukee County Jail is overseen by the Milwaukee Sheriff’s department, headed by the outspoken Sheriff David Clarke. A statement from his office said that there would be no comment until the investigation was completed.

Clarke, a vocal Donald Trump supporter and regular critic of criminal justice reform, has called any attempt at reform “the latest attempt by the political left to weaken our country’s legal and justice system” and “utterly destructive to the rule of law and public safety.” He shamed pro-criminal justice reform conservatives for choosing to “tag along with progressives to take a bite of this venomous apple.” Many pro-criminal justice Americans closer to the right, such as Rare Politics’ Bonnie Kristian, disagree with that sentiment.

Thomas is now added to a growing list of inmates that have died while in Milwaukee law enforcement custody. In 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel documented 18 stories of inmates and suspects whose causes of death were rooted in sheer negligence.

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