Civil rights advocates are persistently urging for an investigation into a county jail in southeast Georgia following the indictment of two employees for assaulting a Black man in a cell. On May 17, Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Brian Beagle, Officer Corporal Mason Garrick, and Officer Braxton Massey were indicted for the incident.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested them on November 22, 2022, after they were caught on video beating 41-year-old Hobbs in his jail cell on September 3, 2022. Despite Hobbs not offering resistance, the officers subjected him to punches, grabs, and kicks while attempting to restrain him.
In the aftermath, other individuals who had been incarcerated at the same jail came forward, sharing accounts of the abuse they experienced. Zyaire Ratliff, who exhibited injuries sustained at the jail, highlighted the oppressive atmosphere, stating, “Once you come through that door, it’s their rules, and this is what it is. If you don’t do what they want, this is the type of thing that will happen.”
Hobbs, arrested for traffic violations and drug possession, suffered physical injuries during the assault, including swelling, a chipped tooth, and the forcible removal of one of his dreadlocks. He was subsequently kept in solitary confinement for two weeks, according to his attorneys Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers. All criminal charges against Hobbs were eventually dropped by the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office in February.
Daniels and Sellers released a statement expressing their satisfaction with the indictment but also highlighting a broader issue of violence and corruption within the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. They accused Sheriff Jim Proctor of attempting to conceal the incident and credited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for taking action only after the video became public.
The attorneys also drew attention to the pattern of violence at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, referencing the killing of Latoya James during a raid in 2021. They emphasized the need to halt this pattern of violence, stating, “Lives are at stake.”
The Georgia NAACP President issued a statement condemning police brutality and commending the efforts of the Camden County NAACP, Hobbs’s legal team, and the Camden County District Attorney’s Office for their work toward justice.
Following Hobbs’s lawsuit, the Camden County Sheriff’s Office reached a “significant settlement” with him, providing him and his family a new path forward, although the settlement does not compensate for the brutality inflicted upon him, according to Daniels.
It is clear that the incident has prompted serious concerns about the conduct within the county jail and the urgent need for justice and reforms to prevent further instances of police brutality.