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Charleston County, sheriff issue statements on $10M settlement with Sutherland family

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County and Sheriff Kristin Graziano have released statements following a $10 million settlement with the family of Jamal Sutherland who died while in custody at the Al Cannon Detention Center this past January.

County leaders approved the settlement on Tuesday, and according to county officials was the result of extensive negotiations led by the county’s attorney with the Sutherland’s family legal counsel.

“This has been a very difficult time for all of us in the Charleston community. Jamal’s death has led to understandable grief and pain for his family and friends,” said Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor. “It is indeed my hope, my prayer and sincere commitment that his unfortunate passing will lead us as a community and as elected leaders to recognize and address the growing challenges facing those in our community who struggle with mental health. If allowed, I believe that out of this tragedy can come positive change throughout Charleston County. We must address this challenge both proactively and vigorously.”

Sheriff Kristin Graziano said she was grateful to learn of the council’s approval of the settlement and hoped it would provide some comfort to the family.

The sheriff said she understood that the community and family have questions regarding Sutherland’s death, and said she was hopeful that her office’s participation and support of the resolution will demonstrate her own continued resolve in trying to bring some peace to the family.

“Our law enforcement community will continue to work to develop a model design that is beneficial to treating mental illness with continuum of care, therefore having less negative impacts on our community. I welcome the public’s input as we look for better solutions,” Graziano said. “Accordingly, if they so desire, the Sutherland family shall have a seat at the table for those continued discussions. "

“My actions, in supporting this settlement, are intended to ensure that this family will be supported in the wake of this tragedy,” the sheriff said. “Again, I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Sutherland.”

“The County’s settlement resolves all potential claims against the County and any other governmental entity,” said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. “I appreciate the County coming to fair terms with Jamal’s family, and hope this resolution brings the Sutherlands nearer to closure.”

The Peper Law firm, who represents the Sutherland family, released the following statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Jamal’s mother, Amy Sutherland joined activists groups outside the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in downtown Charleston who were demanding justice for those responsible for Jamal’s death.

She said there are people that should have been held accountable from the day of her son’s death.

“These people stayed on their job, they worked, while my family couldn’t go to work,” she said.

She called her son’s death a murder.

“We should not be wondering what we’re going to charge them, but when we gonna charge them,” she said. “I was never a ‘No justice’ person because in my little world, we thought everybody got justice,” Sutherland said. “But the death of my son has opened my eyes to a part of the world, I did not want to Sydney. I now see how families feel. I now know how mothers feel when your child don’t come home, and they haven’t done anything wrong.”

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