CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) says justice has not yet been served in the Jamal Sutherland death investigation. Sutherland died while in custody at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center.
The organization says firing the two deputies involved in the case was encouraging, but they are adding to the pressure on Solicitor Scarlett Wilson to file charges in the case.
“We urge Solicitor Scarlett Wilson to prosecute the officers involved and to do all that’s needed to build a case that leads to their trial and hopeful conviction,” said Dr. Dot Scott, the president of the NAACP on Wednesday.
Furthermore, the NAACP wants accountability from all parties they believe are involved in the Sutherlands death.
“To include Palmetto Behavioral Health, the North Charleston Police Department, and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department,” said Dr. Scott.
Sutherland was a patient at Palmetto Behavioral Health. On the night of January 4th, staff called the North Charleston Police Department (NCPD) to report a disturbance between two patients, one of them being Sutherland, that had escalated into violence. NCPD took Sutherland into custody and transported him to the detention center.
The group is calling for a review and overhaul of the criminal justice system encouraging area leaders and law enforcement agencies to dig deeper into police practices including recruitment, training, supervision, and accountability.
“Recruitment. You have to look at who you’re hiring. Training. All these cops claim they’ve had de-escalation training, but do we ever see them use it?” said another NAACP member.
Additionally, the NAACP says the way in which inmates with mental health are treated needs to be addressed.
Sheriff Kristen Graziano addressed the public on Friday in the first press conference since the death of Sutherland in January. She said that changes are coming and policies are being reviewed and developed, but commented that the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office can’t do it alone.
“We’re developing policies and procedures for mental health. We’re working on that, but we need help. We need professional’s input. We don’t have all the answers,” said Sheriff Graziano.
Calls for justice are growing louder as protests are being held in Downtown Charleston. A peaceful protest on Monday brought a crowd of around 100 chanting “Justice for Jamal” and another protest is planned for Friday.