Protesters march through downtown Charleston demanding ‘Justice for Jamal’

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The group Black Lives Matter held a demonstration in downtown Charleston days after the release of body cam video showing a man’s death at the Charleston County jail.


LIVE 5 ALERT DESK: Protesters are demanding justice in the case of a 31-year-old man who died in January at the Al Cannon Detention Center. We have live team coverage. MORE >>

Posted by Live 5 News on Monday, May 17, 2021

Jamal Sutherland, 31, died on Jan. 5 at the Al Cannon Detention Center. Investigators say he became unresponsive as detention deputies tried to forcibly remove him from his cell for a bond hearing. He had been arrested the night before at Palmetto Behavioral Center where staff called 911 to report a fight.

Sheriff Kristin Graziano released body cam footage from inside the county jail late Thursday night.

The group of protesters gathered at Marion Square in downtown Charleston Monday afternoon. Police placed barriers in hopes of containing protesters within the park and out of city streets.

Officials with the Charleston Police Department said there were no problems and everything remained peaceful.

There were around 100 people in all.

The demonstrators marched from Marion Square to the solicitors office where they demanded Solicitor Scarlett Wilson take action and bring charges against the two deputies who are seen in body camera footage tasing Jamal Sutherland. The group then marched back to Marion Square.

A group gathered at noon outside the office of Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson demanding charges against the two detention deputies who were trying to remove him from his cell at the time he became unresponsive.

The night before Sutherland died, North Charleston Police arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault and battery and took him to the county jail.

Attorney Mark Peper, who is representing Sutherland’s family, said Friday during a news conference that the fight involved two patients at the facility, but that Sutherland was not one of them. He tried to “do the right thing” and help break up the fight, but became agitated when police arrived and ended up being accused of assault, Peper said.

Wilson released a statement last week on the findings into the investigation thus far, but said it was incomplete. But a pathologist who has looked into Sutherland’s death reported “no unusual or excessive interactions or areas of direct concern” when the deputies were removing the inmate from a cell.

Pathologist Dr. J.C. Upshaw Downs ruled the manner of Sutherland’s death as “undetermined.” Wilson said the evidence surrounding Sutherland’s death has “raised serious concerns and begged many questions.”

Wilson said she has trained experts who may be able to shed more light on Sutherland’s death and the circumstances surrounding it to include potential culpability of those in law enforcement.

Wilson said she has not received the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s report on the incident, but does expect to have that information she needs to make a decision whether criminal charges are viable before the end of June.

Officials with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said detention Sergeant Lindsay Fickett and detention Deputy Brian Houle are in an administrative capacity pending the outcome of the SLED investigation and the internal affairs investigation.

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