Civil rights attorneys continue to demand a probe into a southeast Georgia county jail after two of its employees were indicted for beating a Black man in a cell.
Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Brian Beagle, Officer Corporal Mason Garrick and Officer Braxton Massey were indicted on May 17.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Beagle, Garrick and Massey on Nov. 22, 2022, for beating 41-year-old Hobbs in his jail cell on Sept. 3, 2022. Video captured the men beating Hobbs after he banged on the jail cell door. While trying to restrain Hobbs, the men began to pummel him.
One of the officers was seen grabbing Hobbs’ face, and Hobbs didn’t seem to be resisting when the officers began punching him despite one of the officers yelling, “Stop resisting.” Additional footage taken outside of the cell also shows the men slam Hobbs against a wall before they began to kick him repeatedly and Hobbs screamed in pain.
Related: ‘First Step Toward Justice’: Three Guards Arrested After Viral Video of Georgia Jail Beating Videos Released
Since then several other people who have been held at the jail have spoken out about abuse.
“Once you come through that door, it’s their rules, and this is what it is,” said Zyaire Ratliff, who has photos showing injuries he sustained at the jail during a May 31 press conference. “If you don’t do what they want, this is the type of thing that will happen.”
Hobbs — who was arrested for speeding, driving with a suspended license and possessing a controlled substance — suffered from swelling after one of his locs was ripped out of his head. He also received a chipped tooth during the beating and according to his attorneys Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers, Hobbs was kept in solitary confinement for two weeks following the beating.
The officers filed several charges against Hobbs following the beating, including assault, battery and obstruction of justice. The Glynn County District Attorney’s Office eventually dropped all criminal charges against Hobbs in February, according to a press release obtained by Atlanta Black Star.
Sellers and Daniels released a statement following news of the indictment.
“This indictment further demonstrates that the people will not tolerate this kind of abuse just because the abusers wear a badge,” they wrote. “That being said, let’s be clear. The culture of violence and corruption at this detention center and the Camden County Sheriff’s Office do not begin or end with these officers or the beating that occurred on September 3, 2022.”
The statement also accused Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor of trying to hide the incident, noting that no arrests were made until the video was released and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took action.
“Sheriff Jim Proctor did his best to ignore this incident and his deputies’ crimes and sweep them under the rug,” the attorneys said. “In fact, it wasn’t until we released this video of the beating that anything happened at all and then, it wasn’t Sheriff Proctor who took action. It was the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”
The attorneys’ statement also noted a pattern of violence at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office and referenced the death of 37-year-old Latoya James, who was shot and killed on May 4, 2021, in her own home during a raid.
“Combine that with multiple other incidents like the May 4, 2021 killing of 37-year-old Latoya James and the pattern of violence at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office becomes clear and we won’t rest until it’s stopped. Lives are at stake.”
President of the Georgia NAACP also released a statement condemning police brutality and crediting the Camden County NAACP for their persistence.
“No individual should ever be subjected to the brutal beating inflicted upon Mr. Jarrett Hobbs,” read the statement. “Thank you for the persistent efforts of the Camden County NAACP, led by Timothy Bessentt, Mr. Hobbs’s legal team led by Attorney Harry Daniels, and the Camden County District Attorney’s Office, multiple officers have been formally indicted for their unlawful conduct. The Georgia NAACP stands in unwavering solidarity, offering
ongoing support to the Unit and all Civil Rights Activists working tirelessly to ensure justice is served for Mr. Hobbs. We firmly believe that no resident of Georgia should be subjected to any form of police brutality.”
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office and Hobbs reached a “significant settlement” after the 41-year-old filed a lawsuit, according to Daniels.
“Let’s be clear: no one deserves to be beaten like that,” said Daniels. “This settlement doesn’t make up for that, not by a long shot. But, at the end of the day, Mr. Hobbs’ charges were dropped, the officers who beat him have been charged and this settlement gives him and his family a new way forward. That’s something we can all be proud of.”