CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County leaders are speaking out in anticipation of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) releasing a video of the morning Jamal Sutherland died while in custody.
Sutherland was arrested January 4 after becoming agitated and violent while at a behavioral health center. He was taken to the Al Cannon Detention Center and died while being removed from his cell by detention center deputies.
Amid calls for CCSO to release the video, leaders are preemptively appealing to the public to remain peaceful.
Charleston County Chairman Teddie Pryor released a statement Thursday assuring the public that a thorough investigation is underway.
He emphasized that “conclusions not be drawn prematurely, that theories not be passed along as truths, and that hearsay or innuendo not become seen fact.”
Pryor said that we must let the system work. He promised that “no stone will be unturned. No question unanswered and no responsibility will be unaccounted for.”
Charleston City Mayor John Tecklenburg released a statement reading in part:
“As of this evening, there are still more questions than answers in this case, and it’s critical that we get those answers in a timely fashion. But even as this investigation continues, one thing is already abundantly clear: Jamal Sutherland deserved the mental health treatment he sought. And it is up to all of us as community leaders to work together at the state, regional and local level to ensure that there are appropriate alternatives to jail for people in crisis–alternatives that allow them to receive the help they need and want in a supportive medical environment.”
He went on to say that as the investigation continues, “we must work together to repair our mental health and criminal justice systems. And we must not rest until we are confident that a tragedy like this can never happen again.”
State Representative JA Moore filed the Justice for Jamal Act, which he says “addresses excessive force and the treatment of inmates with mental health conditions in our prisons.”
A moment of silence was held on the House floor in Sutherland’s honor.