The two deputies who were involved in the in-custody death of a mentally ill Black man have been fired, Charleston County Sherriff Kristin Graziano said on Monday (May 17).
According to CNN, back in January, Jamal Sutherland died after he was forcibly removed from his jail cell in North Charleston, South Carolina. “Today, I made the decision to terminate the two detention deputies involved in this case,” Graziano said in a tweeted statement. “I must weigh the interest of public safety for the community against any incident that creates even the perception of an impairment to the operation of the Detention Center for the safety of all residents, staff and our Community.”
“The employees are Sgt. Lindsay Fickett, employed since March 2011, and Detention Deputy Brian Houle, since July 2016,” the tweet continued.
Last week, the graphic video of Sutherland being violently removed from his jail cell was released to the public. In the clip, Fickett and Houle were shown using pepper spray and tasers on the 31-year-old after he refused to attend his bond court hearing. As he was placed in handcuffs, the officers held him against the cell floor and placed a spit mask over his head as he yelled, “I can’t breathe.”
As the deputies lifted Sutherland into a restraint chair, his body was visibly limp. CPR was performed on the victim, but he continued to be unresponsive. According to bodycam footage, Houle said he and Fickett shocked Sutherland “six to eight times at least” with the stun guns, although the International Association of Chiefs of Police states they should not be used by more than one deputy and should not be deployed on people who are actively resisting or showing hostility.
Sutherland was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as a teenager. He lived with his parents in Goose Creek, South Carolina. He was initially jailed after a fight broke out at a local mental health facility.
Check out Graziano’s full statement below.