By: Alyssa Wilson
The two deputies who pepper-sprayed and tasered Jamal Sutherland in his cell at the Al Cannon Detention Center in South Carolina have been fired.
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano made the announcement on Twitter stating, “Today, I made the decision to terminate the two detention deputies involved in the case. I must weigh the interest of public safety for the community against any incident that creates even the perception of an impairment of the operation of the Detention Center for the safety of all residents, staff and our community.”
Graziano also identified the officers as Sergeant Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle. Fickett was with the department since March 2011 and Houle serviced since July 2016.
Body-camera footage from the incident shows the two officers pepper-spraying and tasing Sutherland six to eight times after he didn’t respond to orders. Sutherland can be heard screaming in pain and yelling phrases like “What is the meaning of this?” “I’m not resisting, officer.” “I can’t breathe.”
Sutherland, who suffers from mental health issues, was scheduled to attend a bail hearing for a misdemeanor assault charge related to an incident at a mental health facility. Although the jail has a contract with a health provider that employs a mental health professional, Sheriff Graziano said she was unsure if the person was on staff during the time of Sutherland’s death.
An internal investigation into the incident is currently underway. Graziano said she anticipates the investigation “will be concluded soon,” but she did not specify when.
If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma triggered by this story, mental health resources are available here.