A Milwaukee jail is now being investigating for the death of an inmate last year. Terrill Thomas, who was 38, was held in solitary confinement for seven days in April of 2016. He died of "profound dehydration" in the early hours of the eighth day as he had allegedly been denied water.
According to NBC News, Thomas’ father TJ Thomas wasn't told of the torturous circumstances surrounding his son’s death last year. His son, who was being held on shooting charges, was allegedly denied a week without any water before dying.
"They didn't give him water," TJ Thomas told NBC News on Tuesday. "He needed water."
The father also claimed that in addition to being denied water, his son was also denied a phone call.
"[In jail] you have the right to [make a] call,"TJ Thomas said. "We didn't hear from them from the time he was arrested until his death."
On Monday, an inquest into Thomas' death began. Prosecutors are deciding whether or not any jail staffers should be criminally charged for turning off the water in his cell, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. The report said the prosecution has not indicated who they are considering charging in Terrill Thomas' death. The inquest is expected to last five days, the Journal Sentinel reported. During the start of the inquest, prosecutors claimed that Terrill Thomas lost 35 pounds, and became frail after the water supply to his cell was turned off. TJ Thomas believes his son was moved to solitary confinement because he had blocked his toilet and flooded his cell.
Terrill Thomas' father wasn't in court on Monday, according to NBC News.
"It's been hard, you know what I mean," TJ Thomas said. "One reason we haven't been going to that inquest going on now, it's like bringing all that up. I can't deal with it."
Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley told the court on Monday that surveillance video shows three correctional officers turning off the water in Terrill Thomas' cell. Those officers did not inform a supervisor or document that the water had been turned off, according to the report.
"Nothing like that should happen in an American jail ever," Erik Heipt, an attorney representing Thomas' estate said. Heipt said the only item Terrill Thomas was given to consume was nutraloaf.
"It's meant to be disgusting. It's a way of using food and nourishment as punishment, which I have a problem with," Heipt said.
He said that everyone involved should be held accountable for the death.
"It wasn't just a problem with jail guards. It was also systemic failure."
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