A now-viral video of a man in an altercation with jailers in the Camden County Jail has drawn the ire of the public and an unusual commentary from the governing board of the county.
The incident remains under investigation, but according to records and other news reports, 41-year-old Jarrett Hobbs was in the Camden County jail for speeding, driving with a suspended license, and possession of a controlled substance back in early September.
While Hobbs was detained, jailers entered his cell and an altercation immediately ensued. Videos published on social media show jailers punching Hobbs before he is pulled into the hallway.
The videos, which do not have sound, were released by Atlanta attorney Harry Daniels after Hobbs was charged with assault for his role in the altercation. He says one of Hobbs’ dreadlocks was pulled out of his head during the tussle. A number of copies of the video are now circulating on various platforms, however, it was first published by Rashad Richey. (Please note: most of the versions available at this time include commentary )
“This video is undeniable and the deputies’ actions are inexcusable. Mr. Hobbs entered the Camden County Jail suffering from a psychological episode and asked to be placed in protective confinement. But instead of protecting him, these deputies jumped him ad beat and kicked him mercilessly like a gang of dangerous thugs,” Daniels said.
As of Wednesday morning, details regarding whether or not Hobbs made those requests or entered the jail during such an episode have not been confirmed by other sources as the Sheriff’s Office has been limited in what it has released.
“A video published on social media is a portion of an incident that occurred at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office Jail has the public questioning the actions of the corrections officers. Sheriff Jim Proctor, and members of the Command Staff, have reviewed the video. Sheriff Proctor has 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 3, 2022 until his release on September 30, 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 Camden County Sheriff’s Office has always been an agency that is transparency allowing the public access to all operations of each division. During the investigation, names of all people involved will be confidential until the conclusion of the inquiry.”Camden County Sheriff’s Office – November, 14, 2022
The Camden County Commissioners have no authority or oversight of the Sheriff’s Office or the jail and, as a board, they collectively issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon:
The Camden County Board of Commissioners is aware of a controversial video purportedly taken inside the Camden County Jail that was circulated on several news and social media outlets on November 11, 2022. The video appears to show a physical altercation between an inmate and corrections officers from the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. This is a serious matter which deserves investigation and attention. It is important to note, however, that the Camden County Board of Commissioners does not have jurisdiction or control over actions occurring inside the jail. That responsibility resides with the Camden County Sheriff, a Georgia Constitutional officer elected by the voters of Camden County.
The Georgia Constitution addresses the issue of county governance by allocating power between Boards of Commissioners and county-level constitutional officers, including the County Sheriff. In the structure of Georgia county governments, the office of Sheriff has the distinction of being not simply another department. Because the office of Sheriff is a constitutional one, its internal operations are the sole responsibility of the Sheriff, and the Sheriff is not subordinate to the Board of Commissioners or the County Administrator. These elected officials manage their own offices and may or may not adopt and adhere to policies established by the Board of Commissioners.
Because of this allocation of powers, the Board of Commissioners does not have the authority to set the terms of employment, including discipline, for jailers and deputies of the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. A county commission is, by Georgia law, simply responsible for preparing a comprehensive, balanced county budget that includes reasonable funding for the other county elected officials, like the Camden County Sheriff, to perform their statutory duties.
Concerns with employees of the Camden County Jail should be addressed to the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.Camden County Board of Commissioners, November 15, 2022
The GBI has commented minimally, only acknowledging that it was contacted by District Attorney Keith Higgins to assist with an investigation and that the investigation remains ongoing. Initially, the Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating, conducting an internal investigation after the release of the video.