Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg on Thursday released the following statement regarding the tragic death of Jamal Sutherland:
“As mayor, I speak on behalf of our entire city in saying that we mourn the tragic death of Jamal Sutherland, a young man who, like so many others, faced mental health challenges, and by all accounts was taking the appropriate steps to seek treatment. Our prayers are with his loved ones as they continue to grieve this unthinkable loss.
While this tragedy did not take place in the city of Charleston or involve any city police officers or staff, I feel it’s important for all of us as citizens and leaders to speak out. For no matter where Jamal lived or died, his loss is a blow to our entire community.
As of this evening, there are still more questions than answers in this case, and it’s critical that we get those answers in a timely fashion. But even as this investigation continues, one thing is already abundantly clear: Jamal Sutherland deserved the mental health treatment he sought. And it is up to all of us as community leaders to work together at the state, regional and local level to ensure that there are appropriate alternatives to jail for people in crisis–alternatives that allow them to receive the help they need and want in a supportive medical environment.
As we await the results of this ongoing investigation, we must work together to repair our mental health and criminal justice systems. And we must not rest until we are confident that a tragedy like this can never happen again.”