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South Carolina sheriff’s office releases jail footage showing the in-custody death of a mentally ill Black man

(CNN) — Authorities in South Carolina have released new footage showing how a mentally ill Black man died while sheriffs forcibly removed him from a jail cell earlier this year.

Jamal Sutherland died at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston on January 5, 2021, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said. Footage shows deputies pepper spraying and tasing Sutherland multiple times after he appeared to resist leaving his cell for a bond hearing.

The footage — including jail surveillance footage and body camera videos — was released Thursday night at the request of Sutherland’s family, Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said in a statement posted on Twitter late Thursday night.

CNN is currently in the process of reviewing the several hours of raw video released by the sheriff’s office.

Charleston County Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has said her office is reviewing the case and she will make a decision about whether anyone will be criminally charged “before the end of June.” Wilson said Sutherland “suffered from mental illness.”

In a statement released with the videos, Graziano called the incident “a horrible tragedy.”

“Our officers removed Mr. Sutherland from his cell that morning in order to ensure that he received a timely bond hearing, as required by law,” Graziano said. “Their efforts were complicated by the increasing effects that Mr. Sutherland was suffering as a result of mental illness.”

“Since this tragedy occurred, we have assessed our resources and are evaluating options for global improvement, including a focus on mental health awareness,” she added.

Mark A. Peper, an attorney for Sutherland’s family, told CNN a news conference is scheduled for noon local time on Friday at the detention center.

On the morning he died, Sutherland was scheduled to attend a bond hearing for a misdemeanor assault charge, according to a statement from Wilson, the county solicitor. Deputies at the detention center were responsible for moving Sutherland from his jail cell, according to the statement.

At the beginning of the footage from one of the body cameras, a deputy is heard saying Sutherland has refused to leave his cell and that he took “an aggressive stance.” The deputy also says a captain has been notified and that the judge required Sutherland appear before the judge. Deputies were going to extract Sutherland from the cell while medical personnel were present, he says on the video.

“During his forced removal from the cell, Mr. Sutherland became unresponsive and died,” Wilson said in the statement.

Sutherland was pronounced dead after attempts by medical staff at the facility to save his life, according to a news release issued by the sheriff’s office at the time.

(Copyright (c) 2021 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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