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Sheriff fires detention deputies involved in Jamal Sutherland’s death investigation

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 8:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano has fired the two detention deputies involved in Jamal Sutherland’s death investigation.

The two terminated employees are Detention Sergeant Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released on Monday afternoon.

“Today, I made the decision to terminate the two detention deputies involved in this case,” Graziano said. ”I must weigh the interest of public safety for the community against any incident that creates even the perception of an impairment to the operation of the Detention Center for the safety of all residents, staff and our Community.”

Sutherland’s family also released the following statement after learning that the deputies were fired.

“I want to thank those involved in the firing of the officers who murdered my son, Jamal Eugene Sutherland in the Charleston County Dentation Center on Jan, 5th 2021,” the family said in a statement Friday afternoon. “I also want those who gave the order to extract him fired. I have always said and believed that God will bring to light those who have mistreated his people. I am so very grateful for the people of our state and country. Thank you the Sutherland Family.”

Late last week, Graziano released hours of video involving Sutherland’s death on Jan. 5 at the Al Cannon Detention Center. The video footage included Sutherland being tased numerous times.

Sutherland died at the jail after being in jail for just about 12 hours. He was being taken out of his cell to go to a bond hearing but died while being subdued, prosecutors said. Sutherland struggled with mental illness, and was brought to the jail by North Charleston police after a fight at a psychiatric facility he was committed to.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges, but said last week she was waiting for additional information in the investigation before making the decision. She said she hopes to have that information by the end of June.

The Charleston County Coroner’s Office said a forensic autopsy showed the cause of death as “excited state with adverse pharmacotherapeutic effect during subdual process.” The coroner said the manner of death is currently “undetermined” as the investigation into Sutherland’s death remains open and active.

During a press conference on Friday, Graziano said she initially suspended the two deputies and said at the time she had 30 days to make a final determination on their employment status.

According to Graziano, at the conclusion of those 30 days SLED had not yet finalized their review of the incident. The sheriff said she did not have all the information to make that employment determination.

Graziano said at her discretion and based on policy, she had put those deputies back on administrative leave capacity. According to Graziano, the deputies had desk jobs pending the outcome the investigation into Sutherland’s death.

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