N. Charleston council member calls for sheriff’s resignation

Sheriff to hold news conference Friday afternoon
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 3:29 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A North Charleston City Council member is calling for the Charleston County sheriff to step down.

Council member Jerome Heyward said he has “no faith” in Sheriff Kristin Graziano after watching the footage the of the death of Jamal Sutherland inside the jail on Jan. 5.

Graziano released the footage late Thursday night. Heyward, who said he watched the video, said “he was not pleased” with what he saw.

“I’m gonna go ahead and ask her turn in her resignation today,” Heyward said, adding that he supported her in her campaign to unseat longtime Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, for whom the county jail is named. “I have no faith in her leading us as the sheriff. If you sat on this for five months, anybody who saw that video would have to walk away asking the question, ‘What the hell the two officers still doing working in there?’”

Heyward said he thinks the two detention officers, who have been on administrative duty since the incident, should be imprisoned in the jail rather than working there.

Graziano said the Thursday night release of the footage was the result of her deferring to the family’s wishes.

The family, through a statement released by their attorney Thursday before the footage was released, stated their appreciation of the sheriff’s consideration of their wishes, adding they wanted her to release it at that time.

But at Friday morning’s news conference, Sutherland’s mother disputed Graizano’s claim that the family did not want the video released.

“We waited patiently. We waited for the tape to be released. People are saying we didn’t want to speak. I wanted to speak the day he died,” she said. “I didn’t ask her to hold no tape. She could have released it a long time ago. That’s not anything on us.”

Attorney Mark Peper, who is representing the family, said they only saw the video on May 5 when Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson showed it to the family.

“She didn’t have to do it,” he said. “She allowed us to see it.”

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has not yet directly responded to a request for comment on the councilman’s remarks, but said Graziano will hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m. from the sheriff’s office in North Charleston.

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