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No charges for officers in man's death at South Carolina jail

The prosecutor says no criminal charges will be filed in the death of Jamal Sutherland back in January.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A South Carolina prosecutor said no charges will be filed against the officers connected to the death of a man at the Charleston County jail earlier this year.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced her decision Monday in the case of 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland. 

Wilson said she could not bring charges against the two now former detention center officers because she would not be able to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt. 

RELATED: Video shows SC jail inmate was tasered repeatedly before death

Back on January 5, 2021, deputies say Sutherland, 31, died in custody at the Charleston County Detention Center. In the recordings released in May that include body cameras from the two officers, deputies are seen deploying stun guns repeatedly and kneeling on the man’s neck and back, before he stops moving. At the time, officers were trying to move Sutherland from his cell to a bond hearing that was taking place.

The two officers were fired in May. 

RELATED: SC deputies fired over inmate's death while in custody at jail

Investigator Gary Rainey, who also worked on the case, said the officers failed to use  proper de-escalation techniques. He also said the jail had insufficient staffing, including only one person trained to do a cell extraction. 

Sutherland was brought to the jail on January 4 after an incident at a mental health facility where he was staying led to third-degree assault and battery.  His family has said both the mental health facility and jail failed to treat him properly given his condition.  

RELATED: Family of man who died at SC jail to get $10 million settlement from county

Wilson called Sutherland's death "wrong" and said that he had done the right thing by seeking mental health treatment. "He knew that he was struggling, he knew that he was having issue, and he knew that he needed help," she said.

Charleston County Sheriff Kim Graziano, who has authority over the jail and the employees who work there, said the jail has changed policy and will no longer force inmates to go to bond hearings.  The sheriff also said the jail has stepped up an effort to try and get inmates their medications and looking at their use of force policies.

 

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