Jamal Sutherland’s mother on delays in case: ‘Something’s wrong with the whole situation’

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2021 at 6:35 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The mother of the man who died in January at the Charleston County jail said she believes murder charges should have been filed immediately after her son died.

Amy Sutherland spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon just hours after Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said a decision on whether to file criminal charges will be delayed.

“My heart dropped to the bottom of my feet. I cannot believe it. I just think that something’s not right about the whole situation,” Sutherland said of Wilson’s announcement. “I want them arrested for the murder of this young man.”

Jamal Sutherland, 31, died on Jan. 5 at the Al Cannon Detention Center after detention deputies forcibly removed him from his cell so that he could attend a bond hearing on a misdemeanor charge.

Wilson, who previously said she expected to have the information she needed to decide on the viability of criminal charges by the end of June, now says that decision will not be released this week.

“It’s going to be seven months on July 5. Do you know that? Seven months since his death and there was no charges,” Sutherland said. “I said this morning if I was a fifth grader, I could have figured it out.”

July 5 will mark six months since his death on Jan. 5, not seven.

“They’re burning a man, a man with mental illness,” she said. “Let me keep saying to y’all: a man with mental illness who said, ‘Oh, I’m sick, I need medication,’ and he’s murdered. But the murderer walks away, just walk away.”

She also questioned why so much force was used to make him attend a bond hearing.

“Who was harmed by Jamal not going to bond? Jamal! So if he was the only one who was going to be harmed, why did you harm him?” she said.

Sutherland detailed a series of comments recorded on body cam video that she says shows him telling the story of his own death.

“He gets in. He says, ‘I’m sick.’ One. He let you know that he’s sick,” she said. “Two, ‘I need medication.’ He’s telling you. Three, ‘I need to speak to somebody.’ Four, ‘Nobody read me my rights.’ Five, ‘Stop jacking up on me. Stop treating me like an animal,’ is what he said. ‘I’m not an animal.’”

She addressed what she said false information about him starting a fight at the behavioral health facility where police responded the night before.

“That was a lie. He was not even in that fight. He came apart after the fight was over,” she said. “And I want to clear that up.”

On the night of Jan. 4, North Charleston Police arrested Sutherland on a charge of third-degree assault and battery and took him to the Al Cannon Detention Center where he would die approximately 12 hours later.

She said she was tired of waiting.

“I need to see some action. Words don’t suit me anymore,” she said.

She also asked that anyone who has the clothes Sutherland was wearing when he was booked into the jail to return them to her.

SPECIAL SECTION: Jamal Sutherland Death

In a statement released Tuesday, Wilson said she has called in a forensic toxicologist to review documentation and said the understands the coroner requested additional forensic testing in the case.

“In addition, within the last week, we obtained additional evidence and conducted additional interviews that are relevant to our use of force expert’s review,” she said.

Wilson said both the community and the Sutherland family “deserve a thorough investigation and that is exactly what we are providing.”

She did not provide a timeframe of when to expect the decision on charges.

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