The mother of Jamal Sutherland praised the firing of two deputies involved in her son’s death, calling the move a “victory,” CBS Charleston, South Carolina affiliate WCSC-TV reports. Sutherland died after being subdued at the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston in January.
“I consider that a victory for everybody out there that’s going through mental health,” Amy Sutherland told WCSC.
Her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as a teenager, according to The Post and Courier.
Jamal Sutherland was at a mental health facility and was arrested there the day prior to his death for allegedly assaulting a staff member. A fight had reportedly broken out at the Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health Center and Jamal Sutherland and another patient were charged with third-degree assault and battery.
He was supposed to be taken to a bond hearing on January 5 but was declared dead at 10:30 that morning after being removed from his cell by deputies. The 31-year-old can be seen being pepper sprayed and tased multiple times in body camera footage released last week. Sutherland is heard saying “I can’t breathe” during the encounter.
Detention Sergeant Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle, who were involved in the incident, were fired Monday afternoon. They had previously been placed on administrative leave.
“For everyone who has children of color, because the system seemed like it was going to go against us. But God is who we depended on and it was done,” Amy Sutherland said. “One day people said they were going to march, and something was done that should have been done a long time ago.”
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson issued a statement saying Fickett and Houle may face charges in the coming weeks.