Lawyers for a Georgia prison inmate shown in security footage being repeatedly beaten on the head and neck by guards have called for the lawmakers’ release and arrest, insisting the videos show the violence was unjustified.
“Under no circumstances should anyone be hit in the way that man was hit,” attorney Harry Daniels 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 September 3 for traffic violations and drug possession.
Security video from the same night shows Hobbs standing alone 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 for a press conference in a courthouse square within sight of the prison where the violence 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. “I’m like, are you sure? It’s kinda 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 have announced separate investigations.
Hobbs’ attorneys are wondering why the sheriff didn’t investigate sooner, considering the incident happened more than two months ago. Hobbs was immediately accused of fighting the guards.
Larry Bruce, the sheriff’s spokesman, declined to answer questions about the timing of the internal investigation and whether the deputies 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 into Hobbs’ cell because he kicked the door and defied orders 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 try to grab Hobbs by his wrists, one starts 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 guards 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 court order said a parole 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 punched in the head and that the parole officer “did not know the exact sequence of events.”
Hobbs’ parole was revoked on November 7. However, the court dismissed alleged probation violations based on the struggle with prison guards in Georgia. The court record does not explain why.
Hobbs was released from Camden County Jail on September 30 but remains in custody in North Carolina.