Report: Sheriff David Clarke Named in Prison Death Lawsuit

In this July 18, 2016, file photo, Milwaukee County, Wis. Sheriff David Clarke speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The Department of Homeland Security says Milwaukee Clarke is no longer a candidate for a position in the agency. In May 2017 Clarke said he was taking a job …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

The family of an inmate who died in Milwaukee County Jail reportedly named Sheriff David Clarke and Milwaukee County as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit filed Monday.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Clarke is one of 29 defendants named in the lawsuit over inmate Terrill Thomas’s death from dehydration in 2016.

“The Estate of Terrill Thomas brings this action to hold Defendants accountable for subjecting Mr. Thomas to unconscionable pain and suffering and causing his death,” the suit reportedly says.

Thomas, who had been arrested April 15, 2016, for his alleged involvement in a shooting, had been placed in an isolation cell after police found he had exhibited signs of mental illness, according to the report.

Initial screeners at the Milwaukee County Jail who assessed Thomas’s condition suggested that he be placed in a special needs unit.

“The change in Mr. Thomas’ condition was obvious to every jail employee who looked into his cell, including multiple defendants. However, not a single one bothered to call for help until it was too late to save Mr. Thomas’ life,” the suit alleges, referring to Thomas’ time in isolation.

The suit claims each of the defendants “acted objectively, unreasonably, and with deliberate indifference” and that they committed their actions—or inactions— “with intent, malice, and reckless disregard” of Thomas’s rights.

Thomas’s estate is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit.

This is the second civil rights lawsuit involving Clarke as a defendant in relation to Thomas’s death.

A lawsuit filed by Thomas’s two adult sons and a few other family members in March claimed Clarke, Milwaukee County, three other sheriff’s employees, Armor Correctional Health Services, and several other unnamed defendants were “reckless and negligent” in failing to prevent Thomas’s death.

A judge suspended a June deadline for defendants to answer the lawsuit to give the plaintiffs time to file an amended complaint.

Clarke, an ardent supporter of President Trump, claimed that he accepted a position with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before later declining the role.

A Washington Post reporter released Clarke’s home address to the public after obtaining a letter about his job offer with DHS.


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