MILWAUKEE -- The company that has the contract for inmate health services at the Milwaukee County Jail now faces some serious accusations involving inmates, including Terrill Thomas who died at the jail. Armor Correctional Health faces seven misdemeanor counts of "intentionally falsifying health care record."
The criminal complaint against Armor Correctional Health is based on multiple factors including:
- Review of transcripts and exhibits from the inquest into the death of Terrill Thomas
- City of Milwaukee police reports
- Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office records
- Milwaukee County Jail video surveillance footage
- Business and patient health care records from Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc.
- Reports from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office
- Reports of investigators from the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office
Terrill Thomas, 38, was jailed in connection with a shooting inside the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in April 2016. He faced felony charges in the case, but on April 24, he was found dead from dehydration inside his cell after the water was turned off -- his death ruled a homicide.
"For a 13-year-old, it's very, very hard to figure out what this happened and why did my dad die this way?" said Mark Thomsen, an attorney representing Thomas' son. "You shouldn't go to jail, and die of dehydration anywhere in the world, much less Milwaukee."
The complaint indicates medical staff employed by Armor Correctional "made multiple false entries in Mr. Thomas' patient health care record." The comparison shows "Armor Correctional employees either walking by Mr. Thomas' cell without stopping or never appearing at his cell at all, when at the same time, the employees recorded they medically assessed Mr. Thomas." The complaint goes on to say on one occasion, "an Armor Correctional employee fabricated blood pressure and pulse readings that the employee never performed."
"We weren't supportive of the company in the first place," said Willie Johnson Jr., Milwaukee County supervisor.
Johnson Jr. said in 2013, board members were against a contract with Armor, and then-Sheriff David Clarke sued the board over the matter. A judge sided with Clarke.
"It seems some egregious mistakes were made by the staff and I believe the company has to be held accountable," said Johnson Jr.
A further review "found Armor Correctional employees similarly falsified patient health care record entries for other inmates in Mr. Thomas' jail subpod during April 21 - 23, 2016." The complaint says there was "no evidence that this pattern of patient health care record falsification was an aberration or isolated instance."
According to the criminal complaint against Armor Correctional, it says "had Armor Correctional medical staff actually performed the assessments that they falsely recorded in Mr. Thomas' patient health care records, medical staff may have identified Mr. Thomas' fatal medical distress."
Three jail staffers have also been charged in connection with Thomas' death.
Armor Correctional has issued this statement:
"Armor has not had an opportunity to review any information related to these allegations. However, the company would never condone any criminal conduct by any of our employees. Our employee handbook, our policies and procedures, and our continuous training firmly states that patient care is first and foremost.
The charges are based upon the alleged failures of three individuals. This is not a reflection of Armor’s culture or representative of the many care-providers dedicated to providing medical and mental health treatment in the Milwaukee County Jail. At the jail, approximately 37,000 health screenings occur annually which facilitates an additional 90,000 medical, mental health, and dental patient encounters.
The company intends to vigorously defend all claims. Although for privacy reasons we cannot comment directly on any current litigation, as we have stated before, any loss of life is tragic. The company and its employees remain committed to our core principles of consistent, compassionate, and quality patient care."
Raisa Koltun, chief of staff to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued this statement:
“Our office is cooperating with the District Attorney’s investigation.”
In November 2016, the board chairman requested an audit of Armor's health services at the jail, which is ongoing.