Deputy on leave after Charleston Co. jail inmate’s death previously faced assault lawsuit

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy...
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle were placed on paid administrative leave after Sutherland died.(Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One of the two Charleston County detention deputies working in an administrative capacity since the death of a male inmate was named several years ago in a lawsuit alleging abuse of a female inmate.

Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle were placed on administrative leave after the death of 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland at the Al Cannon Detention Center on Jan. 5.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said Tuesday that Fickett and Houle were placed on leave “for several weeks” after Sutherland’s death and have since been re-assigned “per policy to administrative duties.”

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said the pathologist’s report into Sutherland’s death while in custody at the jail had revealed no “unusual or excessive interactions or areas of direct concern” but said the investigation was continuing.

Charleston County Sheriff's Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett
Charleston County Sheriff's Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett(Charleston County Sheriff's Office)

Fickett was one of several sheriff’s office employees named in a lawsuit filed in 2014 alleging the abuse of an inmate, whom the suit referred to as “Jane Doe.” The suit accused Fickett of strangling, assaulting and using a stun gun on a female inmate who had just been locked up in the jail.

The lawsuit claimed Fickett assaulted a handcuffed woman in front of other deputies after the woman demanded to speak with an attorney.

“Within seconds of Jane Doe stating to Fickett her demand to call counsel, Fickett retaliated against Jane Doe by assaulting her,” the suit states. “Fickett’s black-gloved hand can be seen on Jane Doe’s throat, beginning the assault on her by strangulation.”

The suit alleged the assault was provoked by nothing other than Doe’s demand to call an attorney.

“There was no ‘situation’ that needed to be ‘controlled’ by any use of force,” the suit stated. “No immediate threat of any serious physical harm was presented. Before the assault by Fickett, Jane Doe remained handcuffed, seated in a chair, and was doing nothing but talking in normal conversational tones, demanding to talk with her lawyer.”

The suit also alleged Fickett used a taser on the woman for more than seven seconds, something the suit states was “not permitted by law and should not have happened at all.”

Charleston County Sheriff's Detention Deputy Brian Houle
Charleston County Sheriff's Detention Deputy Brian Houle(Charleston County Sheriff's Office)

The suit, which was later settled, also accused Fickett of violating jail policy in not filing a Use of Force report and of destroying video that recorded the alleged assault.

Disciplinary records obtained from the sheriff’s office did not show any disciplinary action taken against her in the 2014 case.

The other deputy on leave since Sutherland’s death, Houle, joined the sheriff’s office in 2016.

Both he and Fickett were each given honors by the sheriff’s office last year.

It is not clear what type of interaction they had with Sutherland while he was in custody. Graziano declined a request for an interview.

The FBI is aware of Sutherland’s death but would not confirm whether they were investigating.

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