5 Georgia sheriff's office employees placed on administrative duty amid investigations into the beating of a Black man in custody

By Alta Spells, Devon M. Sayers and Jamiel Lynch, CNNUpdated: Thu, 17 Nov 2022 03:04:11 GMTSource: CNNFive Camden County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office employees have been placed on administrative du

By Alta Spells, Devon M. Sayers and Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Updated: Thu, 17 Nov 2022 03:04:11 GMT

Source: CNN

Five Camden County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office employees have been placed on administrative duty amid an internal and a state investigation into the September beating of Jarrett Hobbs, a 41-year-old Black man, while he was in custody, a department spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

The employees were placed on administrative duty on November 14 and are serving in a non-law enforcement function while the investigations are conducted, according to spokesperson Larry Bruce. When asked why the employees were placed on administrative duty more than two months after the incident, Bruce declined to comment.

The employees in question are "young employees," of the department, Bruce told CNN, but did not provide additional information.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Hobbs' family and attorney called for the employees involved in his beating to be fired and charged and for the Justice Department to investigate the sheriff's office.

"We are here standing with this community, with this family, there is no way in hell that anybody should be beaten the way this man was beaten," said civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, who represents Hobbs. "I don't care what he did, I don't care if he knocked the damn door down you don't beat a person like this."

"There was (absolutely) no reasoning, no justification, no cause, no debatable issue, no legal justification to go in that cell with a man sitting there and pummel him," said Bakari Sellers, another of Hobbs' attorneys. Sellers is also a CNN contributor.

The sheriff's office did not have any comment on calls for the Department of Justice to investigate the incident from Hobbs' attorneys.

Hobbs' sister Jai'Vian Thomas said after the news conference that she wants the employees fired, arrested, and convicted.

"I just want them to be prosecuted, charged so my brother can get his justice," Thomas said. "We're just another family, we're tired of being just another family."

When asked how Hobbs was doing, Daniels said, "he's struggling every day, the thought of what happened to him, you know his physical injuries may heal but Mr. Hobbs wanted to express to everybody that you don't treat people with mental health that way, you don't treat them like that."

Hobbs said they plan to file a lawsuit.

Three videos released

Hobbs' attorneys released two videos of the incident earlier this week and shortly before Wednesday's news conference, they released a third video, with audio, which partially showed the altercation between Hobbs and the employees in the county's detention center. The video appears to be from the detention center's surveillance system and was obtained through a separate legal proceeding in North Carolina involving Hobbs.

Two silent videos of the incident were released by Hobbs' attorneys on Monday, also appearing to be from the jail's surveillance system. The videos showed Hobbs alone in a cell at the detention center. In one video, five employees can be seen entering Hobbs' cell, and one grabbing Hobbs at his neck. A struggle ensued inside the cell. Soon, at least four of the employees can be seen wrestling with Hobbs, some hitting him in the head.

A second video released by Hobbs' attorneys shows Hobbs being pulled out of the cell and employees can be seen wrestling him to the ground. The video appears to show at least one employee kicking Hobbs. Four of the five employees appear to be White; the other appears to be Black.

Within seconds of the third video's beginning, two loud bangs ring through the jail hallway. An employee who appears to be walking away from Hobbs' cell turns around as the sounds are heard, then disappears around the corner near Hobbs' cell, which is not visible in the shot.

Four employees are then seen walking towards Hobbs' cell. The cell door opens, and the employees and Hobbs reappear about 30 seconds later, tumbling into the hallway. A loud wail is heard.

Though much of the audio is muffled and indistinguishable, one employee can be heard yelling "stop resisting." Hobbs yells, "Man I'm sitting down, y'all stop ..." as the employees crowd around him attempting to restrain him.

At one point an employee instructs Hobbs to "give us the other hand."

Hobbs responds screaming, "How the f**k, I'm on one leg..."

As the employees worked to restrain Hobbs, one is heard saying "let go." It is followed by Hobbs and the employees going back and forth about something in his hand. Hobbs says, "it's paper" just before the employees gain control of Hobbs and place him in a restraint chair, in his cell.

About eight minutes later, the video shows at least three employees engaging with Hobbs after removing him from his cell while still restrained in the chair. In the silent video, it appears they are talking with Hobbs; one employee checks his restraints before he is placed back in the cell.

In a press release issued Monday, Daniels said Hobbs was suffering a psychological episode and had asked to be placed in protective custody.

GBI is investigating

In a statement released on Monday, the sheriff's office said Sheriff Jim Proctor "ordered an internal investigation of the incident to begin immediately. 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."

"Internal investigations involve reviewing of videos, questioning of witnesses, and documentation of evidence recovered which takes time, and not completed overnight," the statement added.

It did not include the names of the employees involved.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also announced Tuesday it will conduct an "independent & thorough investigation" of the incident following a request from Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins, the agency said on Twitter.

"Once the investigation is complete, we will provide the file to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office," the GBI said.

In a statement to CNN, Higgins said his office asked the GBI to "investigate the use of force that occurred at the Camden County Safety Complex on September 3, 2022."

"Upon completion of the investigation the District Attorney's Office will review the investigative case file and determine what action should be taken,' the statement said.

Hobbs violated his probation on a federal case out of North Carolina by being in Georgia, where he was charged with speeding, driving on a revoked or suspended license and possession of a controlled substance, Daniels said.

In North Carolina court documents on his probation revocation, his probation officer, F.J. Carney, who was not present at the Georgia detention center, gave a narrative of the events that happened at the Camden County jail.

"While Defendant was in custody at the CCSO complex in Woodbine, Georgia, jailers heard a large banging from Defendant's holding cell. Defendant was reportedly kicking his cell door and was told by jailers to stop after already being warned to stop previously," the court document said.

"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. However, Defendant allegedly did not comply and responded to the jailers saying 'I ain't doing sh*t.'. After the jailers reportedly continued to give him orders and approached him, Defendant tensed up, pulled away, and a physical altercation between Defendant and jailers ensued," the document continued.

"According to Officer Carney, Defendant resisted the jailers and subsequently punched one deputy in the face while punching another deputy in the side of his head. One deputy sustained a bruised eye and a broken hand as a result of the incident. Officer Carney did note that the report reflected that Defendant was struck in the head by one of the correctional officers, although Officer Carney is unaware of the exact sequence of events," it said.

Last week, in a final hearing on Hobbs' federal probation held in North Carolina, the judge revoked his probation, but dismissed a violation related to the arrest and charges of battery, assault and obstruction on the Camden County jail employees which was alleged by Carney. Hobbs admitted to three other violations for traffic infractions, drug possession and not informing his probation officer of travel, according to Federal Court records.

When asked about the case, US Attorney's Office spokesperson Barry Paschal said the office "doesn't discuss active investigations or if they exist."

Hobbs remains in custody in North Carolina, his attorney said.