3 arrested at protest over death of Black man pepper-sprayed, tased in jail, SC cops say

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Three people were arrested Tuesday during a demonstration near downtown Charleston following a decision in the death investigation of Jamal Sutherland, according to South Carolina authorities.

Among those arrested was the protest organizer, who Charleston police said “led a large group of people on an unpermitted march” that started at Marion Square.

Two other protesters, a man and a woman, were booked on assault and battery charges after they allegedly punched and spat on deputies during the march. The man was also carrying two handguns in a backpack, according to a police news release, along with a concealed carry permit.

The demonstration’s organizer is charged with disorderly conduct and failure to obtain a permit.

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“They are going through the booking process and their names will be provided as soon as possible,” police said.

McClatchy News reached out to Charleston police for an update Wednesday and was awaiting a response.

Protesters started to gather at Marion Square on Tuesday, a day after prosecutors announced they wouldn’t charge two deputies in connection to Sutherland’s death, WCSC reported. Sutherland, 31, died at the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston on Jan. 5 when deputies tried forcing him out of his cell ahead of a bond hearing.

Sutherland, who was arrested a day earlier following a fight at a mental health facility where he was being treated for schizophrenia, resisted when deputies came to get him for the hearing, authorities said. A struggle ensued, during which the two deputies “pepper-sprayed [Sutherland], then used their stun guns a combined 10 times before putting a ‘spit mask’ over his head,” according to NBC News.

Sutherland became unresponsive and died hours later. A coroner ruled his death a homicide, the outlet reported.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced the decision not to prosecute the two officers Monday, calling Sutherland’s death a “travesty,” WCSC reported. While the officers made “grave mistakes” in their handling of the incident, what they did wasn’t illegal.

“I understand people will have a hard time with the decision not to prosecute,” Wilson said, according to WCSC. “[But] I cannot prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.”

The accused deputies, Lindsey Fickett and Brian Houle, were initially placed on administrative leave after Sutherland’s death and were later fired, WCDB reported.

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