“Jamal Sutherland mattered” Coroner classifies death of Charleston County inmate as homicide

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Coroner has officially weighed in on the decision to classify Jamal Sutherland’s manner of death as a homicide.

Sutherland died in the Al Cannon Detention Center ahead of a mandated bond hearing for an assault charge stemming from a fight at Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health, where he was a patient.

Bobbi Jo O’Neal, the Charleston County Coroner said, “Jamal mattered, and we need to be complete and thorough.”

O’Neal said she’s continuing to work to find justice for Jamal Sutherland and his family.

She explained the amended manner of death that was released on Monday and amended on June 8th, came following results of a blood test, among a number of factors.

O’Neal went on to note that the first factor in the decision was the traumatic stress, which took place during Sutherland’s subdual process.

She said “traumatic stress did play a role, that that is playing a role into the death of Jamal and so that would have participated in some sort of negative cardiac outcome.”

However, she said that just as significant was the role of medications that were prescribed and administered.

Those medications were said to be new to Sutherland per the Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health Facility, having only been in his system for a total of four days ahead of his death.

O’Neal said that even though they’re waiting on more test results for their ongoing investigation, they don’t expect to change that manner of death again.

She said the information collected during this process is important for many reasons:

“That information may be used by the Sutherland family, it might be used in a court room, and it also could be used to increase awareness about how we prevent this in the future. And so, I don’t believe that it will change the cause of manner of death at this time. It’s still important information we need to look at.”

The 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is expected to decide whether the deputies will face charges by the end of June following information from a second pathologist.


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