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Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, Sheriff Kristin Graziano release statements on Jamal Sutherland

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:07 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano have released statements on Jamal Sutherland.

This comes after prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump held a press conference on Thursday saying that he and the family of Jamal Sutherland plan to explore “every possible legal remedy” to get justice in Sutherland’s January 2021 death at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

Crump and Sutherland’s family, joined by family members of other Black men whose families have fought for justice in high-profile incidents, spoke outside the office of Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson in downtown Charleston.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson released the following statement on Thursday night.

On July 26, 2021, I released a comprehensive report that explained my rationale for declining to prosecute the Charleston County Sheriff’s deputies involved in Jamal Sutherland’s death. The report can be found here: https://www.scsolicitor9.org/news/2021/saw- report-final-sutherland-death-investigation-07262021.pdf .

During the investigation of Jamal’s death I continually met with his family. On July 26, when I met with Mrs. Sutherland, the family’s attorneys, and our expert to brief her on my decision, it became apparent from her reaction and pejorative response that Mrs. Sutherland could no longer have a rational conversation with me or my office. We have not spoken since as I respected her wishes. When a family representative contacted me in early December 2021 to request a meeting, I let them know that I believe a meeting would not be productive and would likely lead to the family’s false hope as I stand firm in my decision. I encouraged them to seek a review. I appreciate the Sutherlands’ perseverance and respect their resolve. After today’s event, I am more convinced that a meeting would not be in anyone’s best interest.

I provided my report to the public at large, to the Department of Justice, and to our state Attorney General. While I stand by my decision, I welcome the review of other prosecutors.

Sheriff Kristin Graziano also released the following statement on Thursday afternoon.

Jamal Sutherland’s death was a tragedy. It should not have happened. Our thoughts go out to his loved ones as they continue to grieve. The Sheriff’s Office has taken steps to prevent similar tragedies by revising policies and enacting new systems.

In a change made immediately after Mr. Sutherland’s death, residents of the Detention Center are no longer forced to attend bond hearings; they may waive their appearance without having to do so in front of a judge. Residents also can use electronic devices to attend bond hearings remotely from their housing units.

Policies also direct all detention deputies to de-escalate and disengage whenever possible after a resident becomes uncooperative or combative. They have a duty to intervene if they see other deputies violating policy.

Under a new system, people who arrive at the Detention Center amid a mental health crisis will be evaluated by a mobile crisis unit before being booked into the facility. If necessary, they will be transported to a hospital for stabilization.

We continuously evaluate our policies and procedures and seek input from external stakeholders for ways to better serve the community.

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