Georgia State Agency Investigating Jail Beating Caught on Camera

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations said this week it would review the beating of a detainee caught on camera at a jail in Camden County, after videos of the incident, showing multiple correction officers repeatedly punching the man, circulated on social media.

The agency said it would conduct “an independent and thorough investigation” into use of force by officers and would submit its findings to the local district attorney’s office in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. The announcement on Tuesday came a day after lawyers for the detainee released videos that show their client, Jarrett Hobbs, cornered in his cell as he is surrounded by multiple officers who repeatedly punch him in the head.

Mr. Hobbs’s lawyers have demanded that the officers involved in the beating be terminated and that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the incident, which occurred on Sept. 3 at the Camden County Jail in Woodbine, Ga. This week, his counsel released three videos of the incident, including one with audio.

“These white officers were beating a Black man in the Deep South,” said Harry Daniels, one of Mr. Hobbs’s lawyers, adding that it was reminiscent of “old antebellum, Jim Crow” times.

The Camden County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail, said in a news release on Monday that it would investigate the incident and review all security camera footage from Mr. Hobbs’s time in the complex. The office said that the videos on social media represented “a portion of an incident.”

The names of the officers involved will not be made public until the review is complete, the sheriff’s office said. James Bruce, a spokesman for the office, said that five officers had been placed on administrative duties.

At a Wednesday news conference, Mr. Daniels and Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker who is also representing Mr. Hobbs, called for the officers involved to be held accountable. They said that the sheriff’s office should have “immediately” conducted an investigation, instead of taking action two months later.

Mr. Hobbs, 41, of Greensboro, N.C., was incarcerated at the Camden County jail from Sept. 3 to Sept. 30 for traffic infractions and possession of a controlled substance, Mr. Daniels said.

Mr. Sellers said in a statement that the footage made it “absolutely clear that these officers beat Jarrett Hobbs like a dog for no reason other than they could.” He added that placing them on administrative duty was “not even close” to holding them accountable.

In all, the three videos show five officers entering Mr. Hobbs’s cell, grabbing his face and punching him in the head. They then drag him from his cell into the hallway and push him against a wall, where the beating continues. Though the audio is muffled, Mr. Hobbs appears to question at one point why the guards are hitting him and screams.

In court documents filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, F.J. Carney, Mr. Hobbs’s probation officer, stated that Mr. Hobbs was kicking his cell’s door before the beating.

“Officer Carney testified that Defendant apparently continued this kicking, resulting in the jailers approaching him, giving him verbal commands and putting his hands behind his back,” the document reads. He did not comply, the document states, and told the officers that he did not intend to do so.

Mr. Carney said that Mr. Hobbs resisted the guards, punched one in the face and another on the side of the head, leaving a guard with a bruised eye and a broken hand, according to the document.

Mr. Hobbs told his attorneys that he was experiencing a mental health crisis during his incarceration at the Camden County jail. He told them that he was trying to avoid getting dragged onto the ground during the Sept. 3 incident.

“He said, no matter what, he knew if he went to the ground he would be the next George Floyd, that he was going to die that day,” Mr. Daniels said.

Last week, a judge in North Carolina revoked Mr. Hobbs’s probation for violating the terms of his supervised release while also dismissing a violation related to the charges of battery, assault and obstruction on the Camden County jail employees, Mr. Daniels said.

Mr. Hobbs is in custody at the Guilford County Jail in North Carolina for violation of his probation related to a fraud conviction in 2014, Mr. Daniels said.

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