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

A county in South Carolina agreed on Tuesday to pay $10 million to the household of a Black man who died in January after sheriff’s deputies used pepper spray and Tasers on him in a jail cell as he instructed them, “I can’t breathe,” officers stated.

In a unanimous vote, the Charleston County Council permitted the settlement in the demise of Jamal Sutherland, 31, who had been taken from a psychological well being facility to the county jail on the time.

His demise on Jan. 5 has drawn protests and comparisons to the killing of George Floyd whereas in police custody in Minneapolis.

The settlement got here as many Americans paused on Tuesday to recollect Mr. Floyd one 12 months after his demise, which turned a catalyst for a nationwide looking on police brutality and systemic racism.

It adopted the firing on May 17 of the 2 deputies concerned in Mr. Sutherland’s demise, an encounter that was proven in graphic video footage that was launched this month by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. One of the deputies positioned a knee on Mr. Sutherland’s again.

Before the settlement was permitted, the county and the Sutherland household had been engaged in mediation talks in an effort to keep away from formal litigation, the tv station WCSC reported. The council’s finance committee earlier advisable that the total council approve a $10 million settlement, in response to native information media shops.

Councilman Teddie E. Pryor Sr. stated throughout the assembly that he had promised the Sutherland household that he would look into what reforms to public security might be enacted.

“This should never happen to anyone ever again,” Mr. Pryor stated. “Ever.”

A lawyer for Mr. Sutherland’s household didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon Tuesday night time.

The payout provides to a listing of eight-figure settlements in a number of high-profile killings of Black individuals involving legislation enforcement officers. In March, Mr. Floyd’s household reached a $27 million settlement with the City of Minneapolis. Earlier this month, officers in Columbus, Ohio, agreed to pay $10 million to the household of Andre Hill, a Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in a storage in December.

C. Brantley Moody, a member of the Charleston County Council, stated throughout the group’s assembly on Tuesday that he had grappled with whether or not to help the settlement. He acknowledged that “globally, this race to the courthouse” troubled him.

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

The native prosecutor is predicted to determine in June whether or not the deputies, Sgt. Lindsay Fickett and Detention Deputy Brian Houle, will face prison costs in Mr. Sutherland’s demise. The prosecutor, Scarlett A. Wilson, the Ninth Circuit solicitor, stated earlier this month that she was reviewing the outcomes of an investigation into the deputies’ actions performed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Ms. Fickett and Mr. Houle had been positioned on administrative depart earlier than their firing was introduced May 17 on Twitter by Kristin Graziano, the Charleston County sheriff.

The deputies had been making an attempt to take away Mr. Sutherland from a cell on the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, the county jail, to take him to court docket for a bond listening to on Jan. 5 when the lethal encounter passed off.

In the video footage launched by the sheriff, the deputies have been seen utilizing pepper spray in Mr. Sutherland’s cell two instances earlier than firing Tasers at him. Mr. Sutherland had been hit with the Taser six to eight instances, Mr. Houle later stated in the video.

The video confirmed Mr. Sutherland writhing on the bottom earlier than he ultimately misplaced consciousness. Soon after, he was declared lifeless, with a pathologist ruling that the way of his demise was “undetermined.” The pathologist acknowledged that Mr. Sutherland had died “as a result of excited state with pharmacotherapeutic effect during subdual process.”

Officials wouldn’t focus on the post-mortem outcomes additional and stated that the autopsy examination report wouldn’t be launched as a result of it was not a public doc.

Mr. Sutherland was taken to the jail from a psychological well being facility, Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health, the place he had been arrested on Jan. four after a battle broke out. Workers on the psychological well being heart instructed responding officers that Mr. Sutherland had assaulted a workers member. He and one other affected person have been charged with third-degree assault and battery, in response to The Post and Courier of Charleston.

On the day of his arrest, a video confirmed Mr. Sutherland in misery. He screamed “Let go of me” at officers and spoke of conspiracies, together with references to the Illuminati, teams — actual and fictitious — relationship again centuries and stated to have particular data.