CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Justice Department on Wednesday announced it will not pursue criminal civil rights charges against two former Charleston County Sheriff’s Office detention deputies in the death of Jamal Sutherland.

Sutherland died after deputies forcibly extricated him from a cell at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center while he was experiencing a mental health issue on January 5, 2021.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano fired Detention Deputy Brian Houle and Detention Sergeant Lindsay Fickett for their role in Sutherland’s in-custody death after video of the incident was released to the media months later.

Video that was released by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office showed deputies spraying pepper spray into Sutherland’s cell and tasing him multiple times leading up to his death.

Sutherland was originally taken to jail on a misdemeanor assault charge following a January 4th altercation at Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health by North Charleston police.

According to an announcement, officials from the Justice Department informed representatives of the Sutherland family of the determination. 

“Experienced federal prosecutors at the Justice Department reviewed evidence obtained by the FBI and state investigators to determine whether the force used against Sutherland violated any federal laws, focusing on the application of 18 U.S.C. § 242, a federal criminal civil rights statute that prohibits certain types of official misconduct,” the U.S Attorney for the District of South Carolina said in a news release.

The office went on to say, “They conducted an analysis of the evidence, including reports, law enforcement accounts, witness statements, physical evidence reports, training materials, photographs and videos of the incident. They also reviewed the Charleston County Solicitor’s Office’s public report on Sutherland’s death, including the expert force and medical analyses referenced in that report, which laid out the reasons why the state declined to pursue criminal charges.”

Prosecutors determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that deputies willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes.

“Accordingly, the review of this incident has been closed without a federal prosecution. This decision is limited strictly to an application of the high legal standard required to prosecute cases under federal civil rights laws; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the incident that led to Sutherland’s death,” the office said.