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Three Milwaukee County jail staffers charged in connection with 2016 death of Terrill Thomas

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Charges have been filed against three Milwaukee County jail staffers in connection with the death of an inmate.

Jail records show all three were arrested Monday morning and are facing felony charges in Terrill Thomas' death. Thomas died in his jail cell from dehydration in April 2016. 

"Our expectation when Thomas was brought into custody is that he would be kept safe," said Milwaukee District Attorney, John Chisholm. 

 Chisholm says charges were narrowed down to the individuals they say are most responsible.

The three charged include Major Nancy Evans, the jail's top administrator at the time of Thomas' death, Lieutenant Kashka Meadors, and Corrections Officer James Ramsey-Guy. 

According to the criminal complaints, it was Meadors that ordered Ramsey-Guy to shut off water in Thomas' cell. The complaints also show Evans had knowledge the water was turned off. She lied about that knowledge and did not preserve surveillance footage of the incident. Thomas went seven days without water in his cell. 

The complaint states she was "withholding information, lying to her superiors, failing to preserve evidence, and repeatedly lying to law enforcement investigators."

Back in May 2017, an inquest jury of six found probable cause for charges against seven jail staffers. The decision came after an inquest by the Milwaukee County District Attorney. The jury verdict is only a recommendation and ultimately is up to the DA whether to file charges. 

The three charged made their first court appearance Monday afternoon. Evans is charged with misconduct in office and obstructing an officer. Meadors and Ramsey-Guy are charged with neglect of resident in penal facility.

"I'm obligated to indicate at the beginning of any criminal proceeding that are the criminal allegations are just that, they're allegations," said Chisholm.

The three staffers are not in custody, and were ordered no cash bond. There was a $5,000 signature bond ordered at their appearances. The district attorney says he doesn't believe the staffers are a flight risk. They have been on administrative duty since the investigation started.

When the charges were issued the three staffers were put on paid suspension. Acting Sheriff Schmidt says he'll decide by Friday whether they'll be fired, pending their internal investigation.

While the death happened under Sheriff Clarke's administration, Sheriff Schmidt gave his condolences to the family. 

"This family has gone through a horrific ordeal. I don't wish this on anyone. From my heart to theirs, saying, "I'm sorry.' Is that good enough? I don't know that it is. My heart bleeds for these people," said Schmidt. 

While a family spokesperson says the apology wasn't enough, they says the sheriff's actions speak a great deal.

"Holding people accountable -- this is a landmark for us and this is what we've been hoping for since we started working with the family on Terrel's tragic death," said Daniel Storm. 

Stone says the family is elated at the news of the charges. "They never thought this day would come," he added.

The district attorney says some of the reason the charges were just filed is because Sheriff Schmidt's administration has been more helpful and allowed them to gather facts that led them to the charging decision.

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