Three officers who were caught on camera in a widely seen video beating and repeatedly punching a detainee at a jail in Camden County, Ga., have been arrested, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday.
The three men — Mason Garrick, 23, of Bryceville, Fla.; Ryan Biegel, 24, of Kingsland, Ga.; and Braxton Massey, 21, of Kingsland — were each charged with one count of battery and one count of violation of public office.
The arrests came a week after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had announced that it would review the beating of Jarrett Hobbs, who, as indicated by videos released by his lawyer, was cornered in his cell on Sept. 3 and surrounded by several officers of the Camden County Jail in Woodbine, Ga., who repeatedly punched him in the head.
Mr. Hobbs’s lawyer, Harry Daniels, said last week that the beating of a Black man by white officers in the Deep South was reminiscent of “old antebellum, Jim Crow” times.
“This is just the first step toward justice,” Mr. Daniels said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to the arrests. “Convictions and imprisonment are the final acts.”
It was not clear if the men had lawyers. Mr. Garrick could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Phone calls placed to numbers listed as belonging to Mr. Biegel and Mr. Massey were not immediately returned.
James L. Bruce, a spokesman with the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail, said in a statement that “due to the continuing internal investigation and possible litigation, no other comments will be made.”
He confirmed in an email that Mr. Garrick, who worked as a corrections officer, and Mr. Biegel and Mr. Massey, who were deputies, had been terminated.
Three videos of the episode show five officers entering Mr. Hobbs’s cell, grabbing his face and punching him in the head. They then drag him from his cell into the hallway and push him against a wall, where the beating continues. Though the audio is muffled, Mr. Hobbs appears to question at one point why the guards are hitting him, and he screams.
In court documents filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, F.J. Carney, Mr. Hobbs’s probation officer, stated that Mr. Hobbs was kicking the door of his cell before the beating.
Mr. Carney said that Mr. Hobbs had resisted the guards and had punched one in the face and another on the side of the head, leaving a guard with a bruised eye and a broken hand, according to the document.
At a news conference on Tuesday announcing the arrests of the three officers, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Michael Register, said that investigators had interviewed or tried to interview all parties involved and had determined that charges against the officers were warranted.
“I believe that the majority of men and women who wear a badge in this country truly seek to protect and serve,” he said. “Unfortunately, some discredit the profession, the badge and the oath they swore to uphold. This is why we’re standing here today.”
Asked what his initial reaction was to seeing the video, Mr. Register said that “it shocked the conscience.”
Mr. Hobbs, 41, of Greensboro, N.C., was held at the Camden County jail from Sept. 3 to Sept. 30 in connection with traffic infractions and possession of a controlled substance, according to Mr. Daniels. A judge in North Carolina revoked Mr. Hobbs’s probation earlier this month for violating the terms of his supervised release while also dismissing a violation related to the charges of battery, assault and obstruction on the Camden County jail employees, Mr. Daniels said.
He is currently in custody at the Guilford County Detention Center in Greensboro, N.C., in connection with violation of his probation related to a fraud conviction in 2014, Mr. Daniels said. Officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation interviewed him at that jail, Mr. Register said.