Family of man who died in jail run by Sheriff David Clarke reaches nearly $7 million settlement

Family of man who died in jail run by Sheriff David Clarke reaches nearly $7 million settlement
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The family of a man who died in a Milwaukee County jail run by then-Sheriff David Clarke will receive nearly $7 million from the county, according to the Associated Press.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of Wisconsin for a jail death, according to attorneys for Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration in his cell in 2016. The settlement was finalized in March but publicly announced for the first time Tuesday.


“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 Thomas’s family, according to the AP.

Armor Correctional Health Services, the Florida company responsible for inmate care when Thomas died, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Thomas, 38, was arrested in April 2016 for shooting a man in front of his parents’ house during what his family has said was a mental breakdown. When Thomas flooded his cell by stuffing a mattress in the toilet, jail officials shut off water to Thomas’s new cell as punishment, according to the AP. He died a week later without the water being turned back on, and lost 34 pounds during the period when he was deprived of water, according to the lawsuit.

“What happened to him was a form of torture,” said Erik Heipt, a Seattle attorney who also represented Thomas’s relatives. “This sort of atrocity should never happen at an American jail. There’s no excuse for it.”

The settlement will be split among Thomas’s six children, four of whom are minors. Milwaukee officials have also filed criminal charges against three staffers at the jail for alleged involvement in the water shutoff or lying to investigators.

“Had Armor Correctional medical staff actually performed the assessments that they falsely recorded in Mr. Thomas’ patient health care records, medical staff may have identified Mr. Thomas’ fatal medical distress,” the February 2018 criminal complaint states.

Clarke, a surrogate for President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE during the 2016 campaign, resigned in August 2017, the same month the Thomas family filed the lawsuit. Clarke’s resignation letter listed no reason for his departure. The sheriff had reportedly been under consideration for a post at the Department of Homeland Security earlier that year but removed himself from consideration.