Two former South Carolina jail deputies won’t face federal legal civil rights prices for the in-custody demise of a Black man who was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun, the Division of Justice mentioned Wednesday.
The federal case involving Jamal Sutherland’s Jan. 5, 2021, demise at Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Heart in North Charleston is now closed.
“Skilled federal prosecutors on the Justice Division reviewed proof obtained by the FBI and state investigators to find out whether or not the pressure used in opposition to Sutherland violated any federal legal guidelines,” the company mentioned in a information launch.
“After this evaluate, prosecutors decided that inadequate proof exists to show past an affordable doubt that deputies willfully violated the federal legal civil rights statutes.”
Sutherland, who was schizophrenic, was being held on the jail after getting right into a battle on the psychiatric facility the place he was receiving therapy. Two deputies, Brian Houle and Sgt. Lindsey Fickett, tried eradicating him from his cell for a bond listening to.
When authorities mentioned he resisted, the deputies pepper-sprayed Sutherland, then used their stun weapons a mixed 10 occasions earlier than placing a “spit masks” over his head. Video confirmed him crying out in ache and writhing on the ground.
Sutherland, 31, was pronounced useless a number of hours later, NBC affiliate WCBD of Charleston reported. His method of demise was decided to be a murder. In Could 2021, the Charleston County Council awarded his household a $10 million settlement.
The Justice Division mentioned its choice was made after federal prosecutors analyzed proof, together with pictures and movies of the incident, witness statements, legislation enforcement accounts, and coaching supplies.
The prosecutors additionally reviewed a state report from final yr, in which authorities declined to file legal prices in opposition to the deputies. On the time, Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson mentioned that the deputies made “grave errors” that performed a task in Sutherland’s demise however “that doesn’t imply it’s against the law.”
A use-of-force skilled who reviewed the case for Wilson mentioned that he did not discover that the deputies violated jail insurance policies however famous that these insurance policies are “indefensible.”
Houle and Fickett had been fired by the division following Sutherland’s demise. Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano mentioned the video of Sutherland’s demise was “horrific.”
An legal professional for Sutherland’s household couldn’t instantly be reached on Thursday.