Group protests outside solicitor’s office calling for justice for man who died at Charleston County jail

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Protesters gathered Monday afternoon outside the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office calling for justice in the case of a man who died at the Al Cannon Detention Center in January.

Jamal Sutherland, 31, died on the morning of Jan. 5 after becoming unresponsive while detention deputies attempted to forcibly remove him from his cell so that he could attend a bond hearing.

A group gathered outside the solicitor’s office to demand charges be filed in Sutherland’s death, shouting “Justice for Jamal.”

“We demand the officers involved in Jamal Sutherland’s killing be fired, arrested and charged,” Lowcountry Action Committee spokesman Joshua Parks said. “We also demand an independent, non-internal investigation and after-action review of the facilities, agencies involved in the Jamal Sutherland case.”

A group called the Justice for All Coalition also wants law enforcement agencies to reallocate money to create a department specifically designed to respond to mental health issues. They also want the creation of an oversight council made of non-police officers who can review data and discipline and fire officers over violations.

Members of the coalition say they’ll continue pushing for change until their demands are met, adding they won’t stop making their voices heard.

“You’ll be seeing us in the streets, and it won’t be a quiet tourism season unless these demands are met,” Parks said. “We know that they only respond whenever their pockets are hit.”

Additional protests have been planned for Monday afternoon.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges, but said last week she was waiting additional information in the investigation before making the decision.

She said she hopes to have that information by the end of June.

Sutherland had been arrested the night before his death after North Charleston Police responded to a 911 call at a mental health facility where a fight had been reported. Sutherland was charged with third-degree assault and battery.

Last week, North Charleston Police released body cam video showing Sutherland’s arrest at the mental health facility and his transfer to the Al Cannon Detention Center.

Late Thursday night, Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano released body cam footage from detention officers showing the moments that led to Sutherland’s death.

Graziano said the two deputies have been working in an administrative capacity.

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