Medical Examiner Rules Potowatomi Shooter's Death a Homicide
The family of a Milwaukee County Jail inmate can't understand how he died inside his cell. The medical examiner ruled Terrill Thomas' death a homicide.
Terrill Thomas was in jail just over a week before correctional officers found him unresponsive in his cell. Thursday, the medical examiner says he died from "profound dehydration."
This story starts back in the early morning hours of April 15th when 38 year old Terrill Thomas was arrested after firing his gun multiple times on the gaming floor at Potowatomi Casino.
Thomas was arrested and at his first court appearance his attorney argued he was not competent to stand trial.
But while waiting for that to be determined Thomas died after spending just nine days in jail.
His family told us over the phone they're still dealing with his loss months later.
"Our family is devastated, heartbroken," said Tiffany, the cousin of Terrill Thomas.
According to the medical examiners report Thomas was found unresponsive and naked in his cell, with no mattress, no blankets and the water to the toilet turned off due to his "destructive behavior."
After an autopsy, officials say Thomas died from profound dehydration.
His cousin told us she wants to know how this could have happened.
"I'd say the employees responsible for his care, for making sure he had water, for checking on him and ultimately the sheriff. That building
is under him, he has authority over it," she said.
The ME's report says Thomas was in solitary confinement, checked every 30 mins per protocol.
According to medical experts an adult can live for about 7-10 days without water.
We reached out to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and were told they will not comment.
Meanwhile the family, who says they were not allowed to visit Thomas while he was in jail, are searching for answers.
"Right now we're angry. Terrill's death could have been prevented. The report gives us no relief. But we do want to know what is Milwaukee County
going to do to ensure that this wont happen again?" she asked.
Milwaukee Police are taking over this investigation. The family say's they'll hold a memorial once that's complete.
Also, important to note: the Medical Examiner's office says, while the death was ruled a homicide, that's a neutral term and there's no implication of criminal intent.