CHICAGO — A Wisconsin jail commander repeatedly lied following her officers cut off water to an inmate who later died of dehydration, prosecutors said on Monday as they described a series of lethal missteps and a two-year investigation.
The commander, Maj. Nancy Evans, was a single of three Milwaukee County jail officials charged with a felony in connection with the 2016 death of the inmate, Terrill Thomas, who had no access to water for seven days ahead of he died.
“When police make an arrest and they bring somebody into our custody,” said District Lawyer John T. Chisholm of Milwaukee County, who announced the charges, there is a “fundamental obligation” to “make sure they are kept secure.”
Significant Evans, who could face far more than four years in prison, was accused by prosecutors of “withholding data from her superiors, lying to her superiors, failing to preserve evidence, repeatedly lying to law enforcement investigators and lying at the inquest” last year exactly where jurors suggested criminal charges against seven jail employees.
The announcement on Monday of charges against Main Evans and two other individuals — Lt. Kashka Meadors and James Ramsey-Guy, a correctional officer — came far more than nine months following that inquest, a reasonably uncommon court proceeding in which jurors evaluation evidence relating to a death and determine regardless of whether to suggest charges. The four other jail personnel who had been faulted by jurors at the inquest are not expected to face charges, Mr. Chisholm mentioned, but the investigation was continuing.
Mr. Thomas was arrested in April 2016 and accused of shooting a man and later firing a gun inside a hotel and casino, according to neighborhood news reports. A federal lawsuit filed by Mr. Thomas’s estate stated he had bipolar disorder and had been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist.
After he was at the jail in downtown Milwaukee, prosecutors stated, Mr. Thomas flooded his cell by stuffing his mattress cover into the toilet. The charging documents said that when Mr. Thomas was moved to another cell, Lieutenant Meadors told Mr. Ramsey-Guy to turn off the water supply to that cell. For the next week, Mr. Thomas did not leave his cell, and was not provided any water.
“He was literally punished for the manifestations of his mental illness,” said Erik Heipt, a lawyer for Mr. Thomas’s estate who has filed a federal lawsuit against Milwaukee County and jail officials. “He was not in his appropriate mind. You don’t take somebody like that and then punish them by turning off their water.”
Soon after Mr. Thomas’s death, prosecutors stated, Main Evans had a guard watch a week’s worth of security video footage of Mr. Thomas’s cell, which showed that the water had never been turned back on. Prosecutors said she did not take methods to preserve that video, and it was at some point recorded more than and deleted.
Significant Evans was charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor, and misconduct in office, a felony. Mr. Ramsey-Guy and Lieutenant Meadors were every charged with felony neglect of a resident of a penal facility, which can carry much more than three years in prison.
Court records did not list lawyers for Major Evans or Mr. Ramsey-Guy as of Monday afternoon. Both defendants — as effectively as Lieutenant Meadors — had been suspended with spend on Monday by Richard Schmidt, the acting sheriff of Milwaukee County.
Ben Van Severen, a lawyer for Lieutenant Meadors, stated his client had worked at the jail for far more than 17 years and intended to plead not guilty.
“We had been very shocked to see the charges,” stated Mr. Van Severen, adding that “we would just caution against a rush to judgment.”
Sheriff Schmidt stated on Monday that he was “very confident” the jail had been “transformed” by new leaders given that he succeeded David A. Clarke Jr. as sheriff final year. Mr. Clarke’s challenging-on-crime approach was lauded by President Trump and other conservatives, but critics mentioned he led a troubled department and a unsafe jail. 4 inmates died at the Milwaukee County Jail in 2016, and a Wisconsin congresswoman referred to as for a federal investigation of the facility.
Asked on Monday whether Mr. Clarke, who was not charged, had been investigated in connection with Mr. Thomas’s death, Mr. Chisholm stated he believed his office had charged the people who have been most culpable.
Sheriff Schmidt stated the accusations against his employees had been “horrific” and that “my heart bleeds” for Mr. Thomas’s family members.
Sheriff Schmidt stated a choice on departmental discipline for the officers could be produced as soon as Friday. “This is serious stuff,” he said. “I care.”
Published at Mon, 12 Feb 2018 23:51:52 +0000