Video prompts GBI to investigate use of force in Camden County Jail

Local prosecutor asked for probe after video surfaced on social media

The GBI says it will probe the use of force against a man who was held in the Camden County Jail in September, citing video of the violent incident that has been shared on social media.

The video, which does not include sound, shows four sheriff’s office employees struggling with Jarrett Hobbs, 41, of Greensboro, North Carolina, in a small cell. Several of the men throw punches at the detainee as they try to subdue him.

“GBI agents will conduct an independent & thorough investigation,” the GBI tweeted Tuesday. “Once the investigation is complete, we will provide the file to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.”

DA Keith Higgins requested the investigation, according to the GBI. Higgins did not respond to a request for comment.

Harry Daniels, an Atlanta-based civil rights attorney, shared the video on Twitter this week, calling for a prosecutor to “bring charges immediately.” He added that Hobbs was suffering from a “psychological episode and asking 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.”

“This wasn’t some arrest that got out of hand or a judgment call made out of fear for your life,” Daniels tweeted. “This was targeted gang violence pure and simple. It just so happens that the gang members were wearing badges, and we’re calling on the district attorney to bring charges immediately.”

Hobbs suffered from swelling and a chipped tooth, Daniels said, adding that one of his dreadlocks was ripped off his head during the fight.

“He broke down in tears at even just the thought about what happened to him,” Daniels said at a news conference in Woodbine on Wednesday. “He appreciates the support from everybody. But, mentally he is not doing OK. He is still in custody, so he is having the full potential to get full counseling and he is going to need it for years to come.”

Bakari Sellers, an attorney and political commentator who is also representing Hobbs, joined Daniels at the news conference and called on the Camden sheriff’s office to place the officers involved in this incident on administrative leave.

“We need those officers removed from the street,” Sellers said at the news conference. “The fact that they are still patrolling is just downright insane, even pending an investigation. That makes absolutely no sense. These officers need to be placed on administrative leave. We believe there is probable cause for their arrest.”

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday afternoon that the “employees involved have been placed on administrative duties in a non-law enforcement involvement.”

And on Monday, the sheriff’s office released a statement on Facebook, saying the video shows “a portion” of the incident, though it doesn’t elaborate. The office added that it will review all video of Hobbs during the time he was in the jail, from Sept. 3 to Sept. 30.

“Sheriff Jim Proctor has ordered an internal investigation to begin immediately,” the statement reads. “The Camden County Sheriff’s Office has always been an agency that is transparent, allowing public access to all operations of each division.”

CNN reported that Hobbs, according to Daniels, violated probation on a federal case out of North Carolina by being in Georgia, where he is facing additional charges. Camden County Jail booking records show he was initially charged with speeding, driving on a revoked or suspended license and possession of a controlled substance.

CNN also obtained court documents that said Hobbs was warned by jailers to stop kicking his cell door and that the fight started after he refused to comply and put his hands behind his back.

“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,” according to the court documents obtained by CNN. “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.”

After the fight, Hobbs was charged with battery, assault and obstruction of law enforcement officers, the jail’s booking records show. He’s now being held in the Guilford County Jail in North Carolina while awaiting transfer to a federal prison.

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