New video released by civil-rights attorneys on Wednesday offers a first listen into some of what was said during and after the brutal beating of Jarrett Hobbs, a 41-year-old Black man, in a jail run by the Camden County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office earlier this year.
“I’ll break your fucking thumb if you don’t let go!” a voice—the attorneys say it is that of a sheriff’s deputy—is heard yelling.
“Why are you doing this?” another voice seems to utter as detainees peek around the corner.
Though who said what is difficult to discern in the clip, what is clear is that a man in distress is screaming in agony.
The release of the latest clip comes after previous videos depicting the same incident inspired widespread outrage at a group of mostly white deputies beating a detainee of color. It’s just the latest evidence of systemic police brutality behind bars in America, advocates for Hobbs said.
“If Mr. Hobbs was an animal, this would be cruelty to animals,” lawyer Harry Daniels said at a press conference in front of the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. Daniels stood beside Hobbs’ sisters, who elected to stay silent but one of whom wore a black t-shirt with white lettering that read “I Can’t Breathe.”
On Monday, two videos were released by Hobbs’ legal team, which provided a brutal view of how lawyers say deputies beat their client and even ripped out one of his dreadlocks, leading to a growing national outcry.
In the first video, five sheriff’s deputies are seen entering the man’s cell, grabbing his face, then neck, and starting to rain down punches on his head.
The second shows how the beating continued, with deputies punching and kicking Hobbs on the ground after they dragged him from his cell.
The names of the officers have not been released by the sheriff’s department, which has promised to investigate the matter. According to reporting by CNN, a North Carolina court filing by a probation officer overseeing Hobbs’ case previously claimed he was accused of kicking his cell door before the encounter. Hobbs remains behind bars in North Carolina, according to the outlet.
The probation officer, who was not present for the events, also claimed that Hobbs punched a deputy in the face as he refused to obey commands. Whether or not Hobbs hit an officer was unclear in the video.
According to a press release by Hobbs’ lawyers, he was experiencing “a psychological episode” before sheriffs entered his cell.
“Four or five” deputies involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave as of Monday, according to reporting by local TV station WJXT.
Hobbs was accused of violating his probation on a federal case in Georgia by driving with a suspended license, speeding, and being in the possession of a controlled substance.
Hobbs’ experience is not unique, the lawyers said Wednesday.
They alluded to other cases of brutality within and outside the same jail, and alleged that they held affidavits from use-of-force watchdogs in the jail who said they were asked to cover up misconduct—and placed the blame squarely at the desk of Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor.
“We’re asking for the Department of Justice… to come in and investigate the entire Camden County Sheriff’s Department,” said lawyer Bakari Sellers, who represented Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man shot and killed by cops in North Carolina last year.
“To be Black in Camden County is exhausting,” Sellers later added.
The Camden County Sheriff’s office revealed on Monday that they would investigate the beating—more than two months after it took place. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The Camden County Sheriff’s Office has always been an agency that is transparent,” a press release by the agency said, noting that “video published on social media is a portion of an incident,” and that “names of all people involved will be confidential until the conclusion of the inquiry.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Nelly Miles confirmed via email that the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office requested an investigation on Tuesday into “a use of force incident at the Camden County Safety Complex.”
“GBI agents will conduct an independent & thorough investigation” before handing it over to the district attorney, wrote Miles.