WOODBINE, Ga. – (AP) – Attorneys for a Georgia jail inmate caught by security cameras being repeatedly beaten on the head and neck by guards on Wednesday called for the deputies to be released and arrested, insisting the videos show, that the violence was unjustified.
“Under no circumstances should anyone be hit in the way that man was hit,” Harry Daniels, a lawyer for the inmate, told reporters. “I don’t care what he did. I don’t care if he smashed the damn door down. You don’t hit someone like that.”
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.
Two of Hobbs’ sisters joined his attorneys Wednesday for a news conference in a courthouse square within sight of the jail where the violent confrontation took place. His siblings said they wanted 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 hit him,” said Taylor Wood, one of Hobbs’ sisters. 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 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. Hobbs was immediately accused of fighting the guards.
Captain Larry Bruce, the sheriff’s spokesman, declined to answer questions 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.
“The two independent investigations are limited to comments from the Sheriff’s Office for now,” Bruce said in an email.
The prison videos came to light because Hobbs, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was on parole from a 2014 federal conviction. His arrest in Georgia prompted an investigation into whether he violated the terms of his supervised release. The prison footage became part of the evidence in this case.
Hobbs’ attorneys released the video on Monday.
According to federal court records, guards went to Hobbs’ cell on September 3 because he kicked the door and refused an order to stop. The video shows a guard bursting into the cell and grabbing Hobbs around the neck, trying to back him into a corner. Four others come in behind him.
As prison guards attempt to grab Hobbs by the wrists, one of them 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 a camera outside the cell shows prison guards dragging Hobbs through the open door and throwing him against a wall. The fight continues until Hobbs, who is out of camera frame, appears pinned to the ground. The entire confrontation lasts about a minute.
For most of the video, Hobbs is either obscured by the guards surrounding him or out of camera view. It is unclear to what extent he fought against the prison guards. Daniels said Hobbs was entitled to defend himself against an unlawful attack by the guards.
An Oct. 20 order from a judge in the probation case said a probation officer testified that Hobbs “slapped a congressman in the face while he smacked another congressman on the side of the head.” One MP suffered an injured eye and a broken hand as a result of the incident.” It also noted that Hobbs was hit in the head and that the parole officer “did not know the exact sequence of events.”
Hobbs’ parole was revoked on November 7th. However, the court dismissed alleged probation violations stemming from the fight with Georgia prison guards. The court record does not explain why.
Hobbs was released from Camden County Jail on September 30 but remains in custody in North Carolina.
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