3 jail officials charged in death of inmate whose water was turned off

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE —  Three jail officials were charged Monday in the case of a Milwaukee inmate who died of dehydration in his cell after being denied water for seven days.

Former jail administrator Maj. Nancy Evans faces one charge of felony misconduct and one misdemeanor charge of obstruction. She is accused of covering up key portions of surveillance video of Terrill Thomas’ jail cell.

Thomas, 38, died in April 2016 after water was shut off to his cell. According to the criminal complaint, Evans did not take steps to preserve footage that showed the water being shut off.

The complaint also alleges she did not tell investigators about the existence of the footage when asked during an investigation.

Thomas was arrested on April 15, 2016, and charged with reckless endangerment and felony firearms violations after he fired shots in a local casino, according to court documents. All charges related to his arrest were dismissed after his death.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm described the charges against the jail officials at a news conference on Monday.

“All allegations are just that, they’re allegations and that the individuals are presumed innocent until the court decides otherwise,” he said. “But to a certain extent that’s what brings us here as well, and that is Mr. Terrill Thomas shared that same presumption and expectation when Mr. Thomas was brought into custody is that he would be kept safe.”

Lt. Kashka Meadors and corrections officer James Ramsey-Guy each face one count of felony neglect in Thomas’ death.

Meadors ordered the water to be shut off to Thomas’ cell as punishment after he flooded a previous cell, and did not follow up with other officers to ensure that water was restored, according to the criminal complaint.

“I don’t know if I could have prevented it,” Meadors testified at an inquest in April 2017, referring to Thomas’ death. She told the court she ordered only the toilet water to be turned off in his cell, after Thomas flooded the toilet in a previous cell.

At the inquest, which resulted in the recommendation of charges, several other jail employees testified they were not aware Thomas had no access to water because the decision to shut it off was not logged.

According to the criminal complaint, Ramsey-Guy physically shut off the water as he was ordered to, but did not log the action and failed to inform other corrections officers that Thomas’ water was off.

CNN reached out to Evans, Meadors and Ramsey-Guy for comment and has not yet received a response.

The three jail officials have been on paid administrative duty during the district attorney’s investigation. They will now be barred from the jail as an internal review begins, according to acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt.