Prison death lawsuit cites Sheriff David Clarke: report

The family of an inmate who died in a Milwaukee jail has reportedly filed a civil suit against Milwaukee County and Sheriff David Clarke.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Clarke is one of numerous defendants named in the lawsuit over the 2016 death of inmate Terrill Thomas, who died from dehydration.

"The Estate of Terrill Thomas brings this action to hold Defendants accountable for subjecting Mr. Thomas to unconscionable pain and suffering and causing his death," the suit reportedly says. 

Terrill, who had been arrested in connection to a shooting, was placed in isolation after exhibiting signs of mental illness, the report said. Initial screeners at the facility had recommended Thomas be placed in the special needs unit.

"The change in Mr. Thomas’ condition was obvious to every jail employee who looked into his cell, including multiple defendants. However, not a single one bothered to call for help until it was too late to save Mr. Thomas’ life,” the suit says, referring to Thomas’s time in isolation.

The suit claims the individual defendants "acted objectively unreasonably and with deliberate indifference" to the risks they created, and that all their actions — and inactions — "were committed with intent, malice and reckless disregard" of Thomas's rights.

The compensatory and punitive damages the estate is seeking are unspecified.

This is the second federal civil rights case involving Thomas's death. In a March lawsuit claiming that the defendants were reckless and negligent, Thomas's two adult sons, one child and that child's mother, sued Milwaukee County, Clarke, three other sheriff's employees, Armor Correctional Health Services, and unnamed John Does.

A judge in June suspended the deadline for many of the defendants to answer the lawsuit until the plaintiffs file an amended complaint.

Clarke, who earlier this year claimed he had accepted a role in the Department of Homeland Security before reversing his acceptance, is an outspoken supporter of President Trump and spoke at the Republican National Convention.