A jail where Georgia officers were seen 'mercilessly' beating an inmate is also being sued by a former sergeant who claims she was wrongfully fired after flagging excessive abuse
- Video surfaced showing Georgia officers "mercilessly" beating a man in his cell, his lawyers say.
- The jail faces at least two suits alleging excessive use of force involving another inmate.
A Georgia jail in which officers were captured on video beating a 41-year-old inmate in his cell is facing a lawsuit from a former sergeant who flagged excessive use of force against another inmate.
The sergeant, Jennie Sikes, was terminated earlier this year after asking for the officers to be disciplined, according to a lawsuit filed in April in the Superior Court of Camden County.
In the last two years, officers at the Camden County jail have faced multiple accusations of excessive and unnecessary force against detained inmates. Civil-rights experts who spoke with Insider said the incidents are representative of a larger trend within Georgia prisons and jails, in which violence is persistent and ongoing.
The Camden County Sheriff's Office did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
The jail, located in Woodbine, Georgia, resurfaced in the news earlier last week, with the release of disturbing video surveillance that shows multiple Camden officers beating an inmate and dragging him outside.
The inmate, Jarrett Hobbs, was detained at Camden County jail. The surveillance, released by Hobbs' attorneys and dated September 3, shows a group of officers unlocking and entering his cell. They then appear to pin him against the wall, at least three officers begin throwing punches at him. Hobbs' attorneys have called upon the district attorney to bring charges against the officers involved in the incident.
A lawsuit filed in April in the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia by a man who had been detained in Camden County jail details a separate incident involving Camden officers that his lawyers alleged occurred on January 24. The lawsuit was filed against Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor and multiple corrections officers and sheriff's office employees.
Camden officers arrested Adam Drummond from Ohio, who, during the intake process, did not answer questions from officers, the complaint states. Drummond was neither aggressive nor combative, according to the complaint, and did not indicate he had any prohibited materials on him.
But the officers took him to a room with no cameras to strip search him, the lawsuit says, where they "beat him in the head and face, as well as shoulders and torso."
"Following the incident, Mr. Drummond's blood pooled on the floor," the complaint stated. "There was so much blood that it could not just be wiped up with towels; the whole floor had to be mopped."
Then the officers restrained Drummond and ignored him when he "began pleading for medical attention," according to the lawsuit. He only received medical attention the next day, when officers told the examining nurse that he was "faking" his injuries and pain, per the suit.
When Drummond posted bond, officers threatened him with additional charges unless he wrote a false statement saying he was the one who "initiated physical contact" against the officers, per the suit. Drummond wrote that statement, the lawsuit says, and he was released from jail.
The next day, Sikes, who had been employed with the Camden County Sheriff's Office at the time, reviewed the incident report and recordings of the event, according to a complaint in a separate lawsuit filed by Sikes.
Sikes "concluded that the use of force was unnecessary and unwarranted," according to the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of Camden County. After running her conclusion up the chain, Sikes was told the officers "would not receive punishment because punishing them would mean we are admitting to doing wrong," the lawsuit says.
Two months after conducting her investigation, Sikes noticed that her job duties were scaled back. The next month, she was terminated, according to the Camden County lawsuit.
Attorneys for Hobbs also pointed out that Camden County officers fatally shot a 37-year-old woman named Latoya James in May 2021 while serving a drug-related search warrant at her cousin's house.
Hobbs' attorneys said he had been arrested for three non-violent offenses: speeding, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and possession of a controlled substance. The night of the incident, his attorneys said, he had been experiencing a mental health crisis and asking that officers place him in protective confinement.
"But instead of protecting him, these deputies jumped him and beat and kicked him mercilessly like a gang of dangerous thugs," said Harry Daniels, a civil rights attorney who represents Hobbs.
After pinning him to the wall and beating him in his cell, the officers take Hobbs into a hallway, a second video shows, where they continue to beat him.
According to a press release from Hobbs' attorneys, the officers tore out one of his dreadlocks from his scalp and denied him medical treatment. After the beating, the release says, they placed him in solitary confinement and charged him with assault.
The "culture of violence" within Georgia jails and prisons
Georgia's system of incarceration has a history of violence and strenuous living conditions for inmates, civil rights experts told Insider.
"Georgia's prisons and jails are in chaos and crisis resulting from understaffing, overcrowding, decrepit conditions, the total lack of adequate physical and mental health care, and a correctional culture ripe with impunity," said Christina Remlin, director of the Impact Litigation Unit for the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Oftentimes, incidents of violence committed by officers employed by Georgia jails and prisons fly under the radar, according to Maxwell Ruppersburg, executive director of Reform Georgia.
"There is no central administration of the county jail system throughout the state and as such there is insufficient monitoring and standards of care across the state," Ruppersburg told Insider.
An investigation from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution revealed that three county jails in the state had experienced their highest death tolls last year in more than 10 years.
Issues brought to light by civil rights groups prompted the Justice Department last year to launch an investigation into conditions within Georgia prisons. A DOJ press release issued last year stated that the investigation will focus on an examination of prisoner-on-prisoner violence, as well as whether officers adequately protect inmates from violence.
Among the biggest issues contributing to insufficient care and difficult living conditions are overcrowding and inadequate staffing, Remlin said.
The DOJ investigation does not cover jails, so its scope is limited, Remlin noted. And the state of Georgia does not track staffing issues within its jails, making it hard to quantify how severe the need is.
Also troubling is the "tendency to try to cover up wrongdoing," Remlin added.
A Clayton County jail employee last year claimed in an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta that he was fired after pointing out problems within the facility. Like Sikes, Terry Evans, a former sheriff at Clayton County, said he had been demoted after speaking up against the decision to place a murder suspect in the infirmary with an inmate who was detained on lesser charges. Evans was ultimately fired, he said in the interview.
Last month, a federal jury convicted Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill on six charges of violating the rights of incarcerated people.
Hill had been accused of ordering his employees to use excessive force on four detained individuals, causing them "physical pain and bodily injury," a DOJ release says.
"When you have an atmosphere where all the way up to the very top, there is a willingness to do things like put people in restraint chairs and then hurt them even more, it creates a culture of violence," Remlin said.
Remlin said she remains "concerned about the safety of every single person in Georgia who's sleeping in a jail because they're just not safe right now."
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