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Deputies say they did not see any issues with level of force used on Jamal Sutherland

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 3:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The two Charleston County detention officers that removed Jamal Sutherland from his cell before his death in January both said they did not see any issues with the level of force they used.

On Monday, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced there would be no charges filed against the two former detention officers, Lindsay Fickett and Brian Houle. Wilson also released her report on Sutherland’s death, which included hours of interviews investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division conducted with Fickett and Houle.

SLED officials asked Fickett multiple times throughout the interview about her taser use while she and Houle tried to get Sutherland out of his cell to go to bond court. She said she knows she used the taser at least three times, but she said she did not remember the exact number.

State investigators later revealed Fickett tased Sutherland nine times during their encounter. Fickett previously said in the interviews that during a normal year she might deploy her taser a total of eight to ten times.

Investigators asked Fickett if the cell extraction with Sutherland was out of the ordinary compared to others up until Sutherland’s death. Fickett said it went the way others have gone.

When asked if the force used with Sutherland was adequate, less than adequate, or too much, Fickett replied that it was “adequate” based on her training.

Investigators also asked Houle if he believed there was any miscommunication or any issues with the use of force.

“I don’t believe there was,” Houle said.

Houle and Fickett described Sutherland resisting arrest and fighting with the officers continuously during the incident.

“At one point, [Sutherland] had his arms around both of my legs,” Houle said. “I was inside the cell, so I had no way to get out except to go over him. Each time we tried to taser him and give him directions to stay down, every time that taser stopped, he tried to fight against us more.”

Houle and Fickett both said in their interviews they were frustrated they were forced to bring Sutherland to bond court and that there was not any flexibility in rescheduling.

“Bond court should’ve been postponed,” Houle said. “That’s mainly what [Fickett] was upset for. It pisses me off it was for bond court. I don’t know why we couldn’t have put it back a day.”

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