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McMaster releases statement on death of man at Charleston County jail

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 2:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster released a brief statement Friday afternoon on the Jan. 5 death of a man at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

McMaster’s statement came a day after video of the encounter between 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland and Charleston County detention deputies was released by Sheriff Kristin Graziano.

Jamal Sutherland’s death is a tragedy. The video of this incident reveals issues which need to be addressed in training, procedures and policies around law enforcement’s encounters with those experiencing mental illness.

Jamal’s mother, Amy, has bravely challenged us all to learn from her son’s tragic death. We will do so.

I ask that South Carolinians join Peggy and me in lifting Jamal, his family, and his loved ones up in prayer.

Amy Sutherland spoke to reporters at noon Friday and called for peace.

“I don’t want any violence in my city,” Amy Sutherland said. “I want us to view this tape and I want us to learn what we don’t want to have happen again. I ask no violence,” she said.

Jamal Sutherland died approximately 10 hours after bring brought to the detention center on a charge of third-degree assault and battery.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said the investigation has so far revealed that he became unresponsive while detention deputies tried to forcibly remove him from his cell so he could appear at a bond hearing on the charge.

But attorney Mark Peper, who is representing the Sutherland family, said he was “clearly, clearly experiencing mental health issues that cannot be adequately addressed at a detention center.”

“That’s why the law prevents it. That’s why the law says, ‘No person who is not mentally sound, shall be confined to the custody of a detention center, or state prison,’” Peper said.

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