By Eric M. Johnson
The death of a mentally ill black man who reportedly begged for drinking water while jailed in Milwaukee and died of dehydration has been ruled a homicide, a county medical examiner said on Thursday.
Terrill Thomas, 38, was found dead on April 24, nine days after he was arrested on suspicion of shooting a man at a casino, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Thomas had bipolar disorder and was being held in solitary confinement based on the nature of the charge against him and his behavior in jail, the medical examiner’s office said.
The Journal Sentinel newspaper reported in July that inmates near Thomas had heard him beg for water days before his death and saw that the water faucet in his cell had been shut off.
The newspaper reported that corrections officers had told other inmates that Thomas’ water had been shut off because he had flooded his previous cell and his behavior was erratic.
The jail in which Thomas was incarcerated is overseen by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office, which posted a notice on its website that it was not commenting on the incident until the investigation had been completed.