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Jailers should have done 60+ checks before man’s death, policy shows



In the 15 hours Keishon Thomas was in Milwaukee police custody, booking officers should have checked the cell where he was being held at least 60 times, according to the current police policy.Thomas, 20, died Feb. 23 at District 5 headquarters.In video made public on April 8 by Milwaukee police officials, Thomas is heard on camera admitting to having consumed crack in addition to using ecstasy and marijuana.After taking Thomas to District 5, he told officers he ate drugs.The video also shows Thomas declining to go to the hospitalOf his traffic arrest on an open warrant earlier that night, police only released 9 minutes and 31 seconds of edited video showing Thomas’ time in custody.The only moments from the jail cell area released to reporters were the moment officers escorted Thomas to his cell and the moment, 15 hours later, when one officer notices something is wrong and hit the alarm on the wall nearby.On Monday, the Thomas family shared with WISN 12 an additional video it had been shown privately by police. The video shows an officer checking what appears to be the same cell Thomas entered in the other videos. But it is unclear the time of day the additional video depicts.Milwaukee police officials confirmed they did not release that portion of the video to the public, citing “caution” and “some time discrepancies.”The amount of time a cell should be checked in clear in the police policy.”Bookers shall conduct a visual cell block check at staggered and random intervals, not to exceed 15 minutes, a minimum of four times an hour,” the policy states. “Shift commanders shall physically enter the cell block and conduct a visual check of each cell at least once per shift and shall log the information on the Daily Cell Block Check.””We’re asking that the edited video that was shown — that the most imperative part while he was in the cell, when he was found, when it was noticed that there was an issue — all of that be available to view,” Jennifer Garcia said Friday.The policy also indicates there should be a written record of Thomas’ refusal of medical attention.”If a prisoner refuses medical attention, write ‘Refused Medical Attention’ across the front of the printed copy of the medical information and retain at the district station or Central Booking,” the policy notes.His family said the new video raises more questions.”Not being able to see how many times he was checked on, how many cell checks were there? How many different officers were on staff when Keishon was there?” Garcia said.Officials have said they are still waiting on the results of toxicology reports to officially determine a cause of death.Early in the investigation, police Chief Jeffrey Norman suspended three officers in the case, but department officials have not specified what role they played in Thomas’ time in custody.Waukesha police are conducting the in-custody death investigation. The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the file.

In the 15 hours Keishon Thomas was in Milwaukee police custody, booking officers should have checked the cell where he was being held at least 60 times, according to the current police policy.

Thomas, 20, died Feb. 23 at District 5 headquarters.

In video made public on April 8 by Milwaukee police officials, Thomas is heard on camera admitting to having consumed crack in addition to using ecstasy and marijuana.

After taking Thomas to District 5, he told officers he ate drugs.

The video also shows Thomas declining to go to the hospital

Of his traffic arrest on an open warrant earlier that night, police only released 9 minutes and 31 seconds of edited video showing Thomas’ time in custody.

The only moments from the jail cell area released to reporters were the moment officers escorted Thomas to his cell and the moment, 15 hours later, when one officer notices something is wrong and hit the alarm on the wall nearby.

On Monday, the Thomas family shared with WISN 12 an additional video it had been shown privately by police.

The video shows an officer checking what appears to be the same cell Thomas entered in the other videos.

But it is unclear the time of day the additional video depicts.

Milwaukee police officials confirmed they did not release that portion of the video to the public, citing “caution” and “some time discrepancies.”

The amount of time a cell should be checked in clear in the police policy.

“Bookers shall conduct a visual cell block check at staggered and random intervals, not to exceed 15 minutes, a minimum of four times an hour,” the policy states. “Shift commanders shall physically enter the cell block and conduct a visual check of each cell at least once per shift and shall log the information on the Daily Cell Block Check.”

“We’re asking that the edited video that was shown — that the most imperative part while he was in the cell, when he was found, when it was noticed that there was an issue — all of that be available to view,” Jennifer Garcia said Friday.

The policy also indicates there should be a written record of Thomas’ refusal of medical attention.

“If a prisoner refuses medical attention, write ‘Refused Medical Attention’ across the front of the printed copy of the medical information and retain at the district station or Central Booking,” the policy notes.

His family said the new video raises more questions.

“Not being able to see how many times he was checked on, how many cell checks were there? How many different officers were on staff when Keishon was there?” Garcia said.

Officials have said they are still waiting on the results of toxicology reports to officially determine a cause of death.

Early in the investigation, police Chief Jeffrey Norman suspended three officers in the case, but department officials have not specified what role they played in Thomas’ time in custody.

Waukesha police are conducting the in-custody death investigation.

The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the file.

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