The release of video clips showing two South Carolina sheriff’s deputies repeatedly deploying stun guns and kneeling on an inmate’s back before he stops moving has led to their firing.
According to the Associated Press, Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano announced on Monday (May 17) the termination of detention Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and detention Deputy Brian Houle for their involvement in the death of 31-year-old Jamal Sutherland, who was booked into the jail on January 4.
“Today, I made the decision to terminate the two detention deputies involved in this case,” Graziano said in a statement. “I must weigh the interest of public safety for the community against any incident that creates even the perception of an impairment to the operation of the Detention Center for the safety of all residents, staff and our Community.”
Last week, Charleston County released the clips, which show the deputies repeatedly using stun guns on Sutherland, who has mental health issues, after he refused to come to the door of his cell to be handcuffed and taken to a court appearance.
After his refusal to be handcuffed, deputies can be seen entering Sutherland’s cell and pepper spraying him, ordering to get on his stomach and one deputy placing a knee on his back for more than two minutes. Subsequently, Sutherland says “I can’t breathe” while being handcuffed.
Officials pronounced Sutherland dead an hour later.
Local prosecutors have said charges are possible but they need more information. A local coroner has not released a specific cause of Sutherland’s death, the AP reports.
An attorney for Sutherland’s family said on Friday that he suffers from severe bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and should have never have been held in a nonmedical portion of the jail. They also say the videos showed a “use of force that was so unnecessary and excessive that there are no words.” They are pursuing civil litigation.