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Activists hold rally for Jamal Sutherland outside solicitor’s office in Charleston

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Around 15 to 20 protesters spent the afternoon at the Charleston County solicitors office, calling for charges in the January death of Jamal Sutherland who died while in custody at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

They chanted for solicitor Scarlet Scarlett Wilson to come out of her office and face protesters.

The recently released videos of Jamal Sutherland showed Charleston County sheriff’s deputies tasing and pepper spraying Sutherland before taking him out of his cell and finding him unresponsive.

Earlier this week, two deputies involved in the incident had been removed from the sheriffs office. But protesters today said that is not enough.

They’re calling for charges in Sutherland’s death.

“We’re happy that the officers got fired last week,” said Elijah Whiteside, an activist. “That’s accountability but not justice. So that’s why we’re out here, and it’s important to keep up coming out here and demanding justice.”

The protest remained peaceful and lasted about an hour and a half.

No charges have been filed in Sutherland’s death, but Wilson has not ruled out the possibility that criminal charges could be filed. She said she is waiting for the the investigation to be complete and said she expects to have the information she needs on whether charges are viable by the end of June.

Sutherland was arrested on Jan. 4 at Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health where North Charleston Police responded to a 911 call about a fight between patients. Sutherland wound up being charged with third-degree assault and battery, although the attorney representing Sutherland’s family says Sutherland was not involved in the fight that prompted the 911 call.

A video of his death released by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office last week showed deputies deploying Tasers on Sutherland multiple times the following morning before dragging him out of his cell and realizing he was unresponsive.

They were removing him from his cell so he could attend a bond hearing on the assault charge.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano announced Monday she had fired the two deputies involved in the case, Detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle.

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