Woodbine, Ga. — Lawyers for a Georgia prison inmate recorded by security cameras repeatedly punching him in the head and neck called for deputies to be dismissed and arrested on Wednesday, insisting on video that the violence was unjustified.
Harry Daniels, the detainee’s lawyer, told reporters, “There is no way in hell that someone should be beaten the way this man was beaten.” “I don’t care what he did. I don’t care if he knocked on the damn door. You don’t kill a man like that.”
Jarrett Hobbs, a 41-year-old black man from North Carolina, was booked into the Camden County Jail in coastal Georgia on Sept. 3 on charges of traffic violations and drug possession. Security video from the same night shows Hobbs standing alone in his cell before five guards barge in and surround him. At least three deputies can be seen landing punches before Hobbs is pulled from the cell and thrown against the wall.
Two of Hobbs’ sisters attended a press conference on Wednesday with their lawyers at a courthouse intersection inside the prison where the violent confrontation took place. His siblings said they wanted justice for their brother, a story they initially found hard to believe.
Taylor Wood, one of Hobbs’ sisters, said, “He literally told me he didn’t do anything wrong, they just came in and beat him up”. “I’m like: ‘Are you sure? It’s hard to believe.’ And then you watch the video and they didn’t really do anything.”
Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor, who oversees the jail, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have announced they are conducting separate investigations.
Hobbs’ attorney is questioning why the sheriff did not investigate sooner, since the incident involving Hobbs occurred two months earlier. Hobbs was immediately charged with fighting the guards.
Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Larry Bruce declined to answer questions on Wednesday about the timing of the internal investigation and whether the deputies in the video remained on duty. 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 for now,” Bruce said in an email.
The prison videos emerged because Hobbs, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was on probation for a 2014 federal conviction. His Georgia arrest led to an investigation into whether he had violated the conditions of his supervised release. The footage of the jail had become part of the evidence in that case.
Hobbs’ attorneys publicly released the video on Monday.
According to federal court records, guards went to Hobbs’ cell on September 3 because he was kicking in the door and refusing orders to stay. The video shows a guard enter the cell and grab Hobbs around the neck, trying to push him into a corner. Four more follow him.
As the jailers attempt to grab Hobbs by his wrists, one of them begins punching Hobbs in the back of the head and neck. The video also shows at least two other guards throwing punches. A second video from a camera outside the cell shows jailers dragging Hobbs through the open door and throwing him against the wall. The struggle continues until Hobbs, who is out of camera frame, is seen pinned to the ground. The entire confrontation lasts about a minute.
For most of the video, Hobbs is either hidden by the guards surrounding him or out of camera frame. It is not clear to what extent he fought with the jailers. Daniels said that Hobbs would have been justified in fighting back against an illegal assault by the guards.
An October 20 judge’s order in the probation case states that a probation officer testified that Hobbs “punched one deputy in the face while punching another deputy in the side of the head. Incident.” It also noted that Hobbs had been punched in the head and that probation officers “were unaware of the exact sequence of events.”
Hobbs’s probation was revoked on November 7. However, the court dismissed the alleged violations of probation on the basis of conflicts with jailers in Georgia. The court record does not say why.
Hobbs was released from the Camden County Jail on September 30, but remains in custody in North Carolina.