Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd in 2020, is now representing the family of Jamal Sutherland, a Black man who died in law enforcement custody in Charleston County jail in January.
The family, together with the Rev. Nelson Rivers of North Charleston, attorney Carl Solomon and Crump on Tuesday called for Lindsey Fickett and Brian Houle — the deputies involved in Sutherland’s death — to be held accountable and charged.
“We have new counsel for justice for Jamal Sutherland,” said Sutherland’s father, James. “We will not rest. We will not forget. Now, in the fight for civil rights, we have a heavyweight … known nationally and recognized worldwide.”
James Sutherland compared the fight to a marathon, instead of a sprint, after Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson previously declined to press charges against the deputies. Wilson called for further investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, something Crump also said he would be calling for.
“At some point, it just becomes reckless, reckless, reckless, no matter how you look at it,” Crump said. “And it is enough to have probable cause to be charged with involuntary manslaughter.”
Wilson said her hands were tied by state law, but in her assessment, said the facts of the case meant a conviction was unlikely.
“The deputies’ tactics during the cell extraction were flawed. They were negligent but they also complied with much of their training, policy and procedures,” she said in a July 26 report. “For now, in this case, it would be impossible for any prosecutor to argue in a courtroom that the deputies acted with the requisite criminal intent by following their training.”
Fickett and Houle were fired after initially being put on administrative leave following the event, but the Sutherland family and its counsel asserted that was not enough, comparing the half-measures toward accountability to the Three-Fifths Compromise.
“We look forward to holding everybody in this chain of events accountable,” Solomon said. “Jamal deserves full justice.”
Sutherland’s mother, Amy, said she wouldn’t rest until change was brought about from her son’s death.
“My child said to me, ‘Mom, they’re going to murder me. Make sure everybody knows that they murdered me,'” she said. “That’s what he left me with, and that’s what I’m leaving you with.”