Lawyers a Georgia A jail detainee shown on security footage being repeatedly punched in the head and neck by guards has called for the deputies to be fired and arrested, insisting the video shows the violence was unjustified.
“There is no way that anybody could be beaten the way this man was,” attorney Harry Daniels told reporters. “I don’t care what he did. I don’t care if he kicked the damn door down. That’s not how you beat a person.”
Jarrett Hobbs, a 41-year-old black man from North Carolina, was booked into the Camden County Jail on Sept. 3 on charges of traffic violations and drug possession.
Security video from the same night shows Hobbs standing alone before five security guards rush in and surround him. At least three deputies can be seen throwing punches before Hobbs is dragged out of the cell and thrown into a wall.
Hobbs’ two sisters joined his lawyers at a news conference on the courthouse plaza, near the prison where the violence happened. His siblings said they want justice for their brother, whose story even they found hard to believe at first.
“He literally told me he didn’t do anything wrong, they just came in and beat him up,” said Taylor Wood, one of Hobbs’ sisters. “I say, are you sure? It’s kind of hard to believe. And then you see the video and he really didn’t do anything.”
Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor, who oversees the jail, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced separate investigations.
Hobbs’ attorneys are questioning why the sheriff didn’t open an investigation sooner, given that the incident happened more than two months ago. Hobbs was immediately charged with fighting the guards.
Larry Bruce, a sheriff’s spokesman, declined to answer questions about the timeline of the internal investigation or whether deputies remain on the job. The sheriff’s office has not released the names or races of the deputies involved.
“Two independent investigations limit comment from the Sheriff’s Office at this time,” Bruce said in an email.
The jailhouse videos came to light after Hobbs, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was sentenced in 2014 to probation. His arrest in Georgia prompted an investigation into whether he violated the terms of his supervised release. The arrest footage became part of the evidence in this case. Hobbs’ attorneys released the video Monday.
According to federal court records, guards entered Hobbs’ cell because he was kicking the door and refusing to stop. The video shows a security guard rushing into the cell and grabbing Hobbs by the neck in an attempt to corner him. Four more come in behind him.
As the jailers try to hold Hobbs by the wrists, one begins punching Hobbs in the back of the head and neck. The video shows at least two other guards throwing punches. A second video from an outside camera shows jailers dragging Hobbs through an open door and throwing him against a wall. The struggle continues until Hobbs, who is off-camera, appears pinned to the ground. The entire confrontation lasts about a minute.
In most of the video, Hobbs is either obscured by security guards or off-camera. It is not clear how much he fought with the jailers. Daniels said Hobbs would have had the right to fight back against the guards’ illegal assault.
The judge’s Oct. 20 ruling said a probation officer testified that Hobbs “punched one deputy in the face and another in the side of the head. As a result of the incident, one deputy received a bruise on his eye and a broken arm.”
It also notes that Hobbs was punched in the head and that the probation officer was “not aware of the exact sequence of events.”
Hobbs’ probation was revoked on November 7. However, the court dismissed the alleged probation violations based on the fight against prison guards in Georgia. The court record does not say why.
Hobbs was released from the Camden County Jail on Sept. 30 but remains in custody in North Carolina.