CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – Lawyers for a Georgia prison inmate captured by security cameras who was repeatedly beaten by wardens are urging the Justice Department to investigate his beatings.
Jarrett Hobbs, a 41-year-old black man from North Carolina, was sentenced to the Camden County Jail on the Georgia coast on September 3 for traffic violations and drug possession. Security video from the same night shows Hobbs standing alone in his cell before five guards rush in and surround him. At least three deputies land punches before Hobbs is dragged out of the cell and thrown against a wall.
“Under no circumstances should anyone be hit in the way that man was hit,” Harry Daniels, a lawyer for the inmate, told reporters at a news conference. “I don’t care what he did. I don’t care if he smashed the damn door down.
Additional footage shows the deputy seemingly strapping Hobbs into a restraint chair after the beating and failing to provide medical assistance.
Prison officials say Hobbs repeatedly kicked his cell door and refused orders to stop.
Records show Hobbs was later charged with aggravated assault, minor assault and obstruction by law enforcement officers.
Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor, who oversees the jail, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have announced they are conducting separate investigations.
Hobbs’ attorneys are wondering why the sheriff didn’t investigate sooner, considering the Hobbs incident happened more than two months ago.
Captain Larry Bruce, the sheriff’s spokesman, has declined to answer questions about the internal investigation’s timing. Bruce told FOX 5 that the officers involved were transferred to administrative duty as part of a “participation outside of law enforcement” so they could be available for questioning by investigators.
The sheriff’s office has not released the names or races of the deputies involved.
“The two independent investigations are limited to comments from the Sheriff’s Office for now,” Bruce said in an email.
Prison records show that Hobbs, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was arrested Sept. 3 in coastal Camden County, about 100 miles south of Savannah. He was initially charged with speeding, driving with a suspended or revoked license and possession of an illegal drug.
Daniels said Hobbs would have been entitled to fight back against guards who unlawfully assaulted him. He said the guard with the broken hand injured himself by hitting a wall while pounding on Hobbs.
Court filings show that a federal judge in North Carolina on Nov. 7 revoked Hobbs’ suspended sentence for a federal criminal conviction in 2014 after finding he had violated the terms of his supervised release. However, the court dismissed alleged probation violations based on the struggle with prison guards in Georgia. The court record does not explain why.
Daniels said he received the video after it was submitted as evidence in the federal parole process. He said Hobbs remains in custody in North Carolina.
“The physical wounds have healed as best they could,” Daniels said. “But not mentally. He thought he was going to die.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.