County Reaches $10 Million Settlement in Jailed Black Man’s Death

Original Source: New York Times:

Charleston County, S.C. officials unanimously approved an agreement with the family of Jamal Sutherland, who died in January, when sheriff’s duties used pepper spray and tasers on him.

A county in South Carolina on Tuesday agreed to pay $ 10 million to the family of a black man who died in January, when sheriff’s deputies shot pepper spray and tessers at him in a prison closet. Used, as he told them, “I can’t breathe,” officials said.

In a unanimous vote, Charleston County Council approved the settlement of the death of 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland, who was then taken from the mental health facility to the county jail.

His death on 5 January has attracted protests and comparisons to the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

The agreement came after several Americans stayed on Tuesday to recall Mr. Floyd a year after his death, which became the catalyst for a nationwide enumeration on police brutality and systemic racism.

This occurred on May 17 following the shootings of two deputies involved in Mr. Sutherland’s death, an encounter shown in graphic video footage that was released this month by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. One of the deputy placed a knee on Mr. Sutherland’s back.

Before the settlement was approved, the county and Sutherland families engaged in arbitration negotiations in an effort to avoid formal litigation, the television station WCSC reported. According to local news media outlets, the council’s Finance Committee had previously recommended that the full council approve the $ 10 million agreement.

Councilman Teddy E. Prior Senior said during the meeting that he had promised the Sutherland family that he would look into what improvements could be made in public safety.

“It should never happen to anyone again,” Mr. Prior said. “sometimes.”

A lawyer for Mr. Sutherland’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.

The payment adds to the list of eight-figure settlements in several high-profile murders of black people involving law enforcement officers. In March, Mr. Floyd’s family signed a $ 27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis. Earlier this month, authorities in Columbus, Ohio, agreed to pay $ 10 million to the family of Andre Hill, a black man who was badly shot by a police officer in a garage in December was.

C. Brentley Moody, a member of the Charleston County Council, said during a group meeting on Tuesday that he was struggling with whether to endorse the agreement. He admitted that “globally, this race at the courthouse” bothered him.

“What was done was a terrible injustice,” Mr. Moody said. “But how do you solve it? I don’t know what the answer is.”

The local prosecutor is expected to decide in June whether the deputation, Sergeant. Lindsey Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle will face criminal charges in Mr. Sutherland’s death. The Ninth Circuit Solicitor, prosecutor, Scarlett A. Wilson, said earlier this month that she was reviewing the results of an investigation into the actions of deputies conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Ms. Fickett and Mr. Houle were placed on administrative leave before their firing was announced on May 17 Twitter By Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano.

Deputies were trying to extricate Mr. Sutherland from a closet at the county jail’s Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center to take him to court for a bond hearing on January 5, when the fatal encounter occurred.

In the video footage released by the sheriff, deputies were seen firing a taser at Mr. Sutherland’s cell using pepper spray twice. Mr. Sutherland was killed by Tesser six to eight times, Mr. Houle later said in the video.

The video showed Mr. Sutherland moaning on the ground before he eventually lost consciousness. Shortly thereafter, he was pronounced dead, with a pathologist ruling that the manner of his death was “uncertain”. The pathologist stated that Mr. Sutherland died “as a result of an agitated state with pharmacotherapeutic effects during the sub-procedure.”

The officials would not discuss the results of the autopsy further and said that the post-mortem examination report would not be released as it was not a public document.

Mr Sutherland was taken to jail from Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health, a mental health facility, where he was arrested after a fight on 4 January. Mental health center staff told responding officers that Mr. Sutherland had assaulted a staff member. He and another patient were charged with third-degree assault and battery Post and courier Of Charleston.

On the day of his arrest, a video showed Mr. Sutherland in distress. He shouted “Let me go” at the authorities and spoke of intrigues, including references to the Illuminati, the group – real and fictional – dating back centuries and possessing special knowledge.