A Georgia sheriff’s office said Tuesday it is investigating after video surfaced of a Black inmate being beaten by deputies while he was in custody at a county jail.
The incident happened Sept. 3 at the Camden County Jail in Woodbine after Jarrett Hobbs, 41, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was arrested on suspicion of speeding, driving with a suspended or revoked license and possession of a controlled substance.
After the incident, he was charged with assault.
Civil rights attorney Harry Daniels said in a news release that Hobbs was suffering from a “psychological episode” at the time and had asked to be placed in protective confinement.
“But instead of protecting him, these deputies jumped him and beat and kicked him mercilessly like a gang of dangerous thugs,” he said.
Daniels said that after the beating, the deputies dragged Hobbs from his cell, threw him against a wall and kicked him repeatedly.
“At some point in the beating, they ripped one of Hobbs’ dreadlocks out of his scalp,” he said in the news release.
The sheriff’s office said it launched an internal investigation.
The incident was captured on security video. Daniels released two edited videos Monday, neither of which include audio. He has a third video with sound but declined to release it.
In one clip, Hobbs is seen standing by the cell door. As he turns around and walks toward his bed, a deputy enters, appears to place his hand around Hobbs’ neck and pushes him against a wall.
Another deputy enters and appears to repeatedly punch Hobbs in the head, the video shows. A third deputy also appears to punch Hobbs.
The second video, which gives a view of the hallway outside Hobbs’ cell, shows the deputies appearing to yank him from the room and slam him against a wall. Three deputies continue to beat him, the video shows.
Five deputies were present. Four are white, and one is Black.
A sheriff’s spokesperson said Tuesday that the deputies have been placed on administrative leave, which is a standard procedure. The office the names of anyone involved will not be released until the investigation is complete.
“This investigation will include all recorded video from the time the inmate entered the facility on September 3rd, 2022 until his release on September 30th, 2022. If deemed necessary an additional agency will assist with the investigation,” the sheriff’s office said Monday.
Exactly what happened before the video remains unclear. Federal court documents from last month say Hobbs was reportedly kicking his cell door and refused the deputies’ commands to stop.
The document further states says Hobbs “tensed up, pulled away, and a physical altercation … ensued” after the deputies entered the cell. It says Hobbs was struck in the head by a deputy but also accuses Hobbs of punching a deputy in the face and another in the side of the head.
One of the deputies had a bruised eye and a broken hand, according to the court filing, which says the arrest violated Hobbs’ probation in North Carolina stemming from a 2014 guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.
Daniels told NBC affiliate WXIA of Atlanta that his client would have been justified to fight back after he was unlawfully attacked. He said the deputy broke his hand by punching a wall as he swung at Hobbs.
He is calling on the district attorney to charge the deputies. The DA’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Minyvonne Burke is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News.