Former Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon responds to criticism over death of Jamal Sutherland

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Former Sheriff Al Cannon who led the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years is responding to criticism training practices and procedures instituted during his stint as Sheriff are to blame for the death of Charleston County inmate Jamal Sutherland back on January 5th.

Former Sheriff Al Cannon says his department and policy did more good than harm and says what happened with Jamal Sutherland was a tragic accident. 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is insisting today changes need to come to the detention center after announcing charges will not be filed against the two involved deputies.

Solicitor Wilson says major changes and reforms are needed at the Sheriff’s Office following the death of Sutherland. Former Sheriff Al Cannon says policies adopted under his leadership proved successful and helped make it a nationally accredited law enforcement agency.

“The problem in proving the criminal intent however is that this is how they were trained,” says Solicitor Wilson.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says she won’t charge Deputy Brian Houle and Sergeant Lindsay Fickett, the two deputies involved in Sutherland’s death saying they acted based on their training. Training the deputies received under the leadership of former Sheriff Cannon.

Sheriff Cannon spoke on the case for the first time since it happened back in January.

“My heart aches for the Sutherland family, that is a tragic outcome and I am more than sorry that it happened,” says Sheriff Cannon.

Former Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon responded to criticism of policies enacted during his tenure Monday night saying they’ve prevented more injuries than harmful outcomes.

“Those policies, procedures and training have proven well for us for twenty-five years,” says Sheriff Cannon.

Sheriff Cannon says the methods haven’t been perfect but he believes the analysis conducted by use of force expert Gary Raney doesn’t paint the full picture of the detention center’s operations.

“We have rules, people comply with them and we have that rapid response in the event we have problems that prevents them from getting bigger,” says Sheriff Cannon on the rapid response team adopted during his tenure.

Policies and training methods implemented meant to keep inmates and detention staff safe at all times no matter the situation.

“So if you start letting people get away with things then that potentially creates problems for others,” says Sheriff Cannon.

One of the biggest criticisms, Cannon’s policies were aggressive and intimidating to inmates. Sheriff Cannon says he doesn’t agree with the claim.

“A majority of the time you’re taking care of inmates and everyone is getting along alright but there are times when you have to be a gladiator,” says Sheriff Cannon. “Just the idea that he said that they act like gladiators and not guardians well bud, you have to be depending on the circumstance a little bit of each.”

Sheriff Cannon says he hasn’t watched the video of Sutherland’s death and has had nothing to do with the case since leaving the Sheriff’s Office just days before Sutherland’s death.

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