Graham Kilmer
MKE County

No Criminal Charges For Officers in Jail Death

DA's office finds no evidence to support any charges in death of Cilivea Thyrion.

By - Aug 7th, 2023 09:43 am
Milwaukee County Jail. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County Jail. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office will not file criminal charges related to the in-custody death of Cilivea Sunray Thyrion at the Milwaukee County Jail.

Following a review of evidence collected by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department (WCSD), which investigated the death, the District Attorney’s Office has not found anything that would “support a finding of criminal wrongdoing by the correctional officers who responded to Ms. Thyrion, nor by any other staff member employed at the Milwaukee County Jail.”

That’s according to an Aug. 3 letter written by Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern to Milwaukee County Sheriff Denita Ball explaining the office’s decision not to charge any MCSO personnel related to Thyrion’s death.

Thyrion, 20, died at the Milwaukee County Jail on Dec. 16 of an apparent suicide. At approximately 10:30 a.m. she was found “conscious but in distress,” according to the original statement released by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

Lovern’s explanation of the evidence gathered by the WCSD and an autopsy by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner indicate that Thyrion asphyxiated on pieces of an adult diaper that she had ripped up and attempted to swallow.

A final autopsy report, which will include a determination of the cause of death, is still pending.

At the time of her death, Thyrion was housed in the jail’s Special Needs Pod and on suicide watch. She had been in and out of that pod and the hospital during her time at the jail between February and December 2022 on charges of strangulation and battery, Lovern wrote. She had made repeated threats and even attempted suicide. She also harmed herself by attempting to eat non-edible objects.

On the morning of her death, Thyrion told correctional officer Latasha Hethington that she needed assistance because she was getting her period and she was bleeding. Hethington and correctional officer Kamryn Palmer looked for underwear made for specifically for suicide watch. The correctional officers did not want to give Thyrion regular sanitary products because they are a suicide risk, according to Lovern’s letter. Eventually, the two officers decided to give Thyrion an adult diaper.

“As they indicated to investigators, they wanted to meet a basic need for Ms. Thyrion and did not consider that the diaper could be used in a way to self-harm,” Lovern wrote.

Before Thyrion put the diaper on, she was allowed out of her pod to make telephone calls. She was brought back just a little after 10 a.m. And at 10:28 a.m., Hethington tried to speak to her over an intercom. Having no success, she checked on her and found she was indicating she could not breathe and was choking on something.

Hethington called additional jail personnel, but they could not pull anything from Thyrion’s mouth, in part because she was resisting jail staff, Lovern’s letter states. Medical personnel responded and life-saving measures were attempted, but Thyrion was pronounced dead at 11:13 a.m. The medical examiner later retrieved ripped-up pieces of the diaper during an autopsy, according to Lovern’s letter.

“The evidence in this matter does not suggest an intent by staff members to harm Ms. Thyrion,” Lovern wrote, “nor that staff members acted with reckless disregard for her safety.”

Unless new evidence contradicting the findings of the investigation is presented in a final autopsy report, Lovern wrote, the DA’s office has concluded its review of the investigation into Thyrion’s death and will not take any action.

Thyrion’s mother, Kerrie Hirte, has previously spoken out about her daughter’s time in custody. “From the time Cilivea was incarcerated in this jail, she had mental health extreme issues because of their negligence to listen to me as a mother to try to help her,” sid Hirte. She made public demands for information about her daughter’s death and called for any necessary changes at the Milwaukee County Jail to protect the people incarcerated there.

Attorney B’Ivory LaMarr has represented the family following Thyrion’s death. LaMarr has also represented the family of Brieon Green, who committed suicide while in custody at the jail in June 2022.

Read the full letter on Urban Milwaukee.

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