Three former Georgia sheriff’s deputies they were arrested and charged for allegedly beating a black inmate in a September videotaped attack that “shocked the conscience,” authorities said Tuesday.
Mason Garrick, 23, Braxton Massey, 21, and Ryan Biegel, 24, have been arrested and charged with assault and violating the oath of office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Michael Register announced.
They had already been fired by the Camden County Sheriff’s Office prior to their arrests.
“There is a sacred and fragile trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” the Register told reporters. “This trust must be protected and preserved.”
All three have been booked into the Camden County Public Safety Complex, online records show. They are each being held on $10,000 bail. The attorney’s information was not available to them.
The Register said surveillance video of the beating concerned him.
Asked if the jailers acted inappropriately, the GBI director replied: “I think that’s why we’re standing here.”
“As a citizen, my reaction is like anyone else’s, it shocked the conscience,” the Register said.
“When you look at the initial actions that occurred, I think our investigation thus far, and the district attorney found that there was probable cause to arrest three of the individuals for assault and violation of oath of office.”
The arrests come a week after lawyers for inmate Jarrett Hobbs released several videos showing officers allegedly beating him on Sept. 3 at the Camden County Jail in Woodbine.
Hobbs, 41, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was jailed for traffic offenses and possession of a controlled substance. Attorney Harry Daniels said his client was suffering from a “psychological episode” and had requested that he be placed in protective confinement.
“But instead of protecting him, these officers pounced on him and mercilessly punched and kicked him like a gang of dangerous thugs,” Daniels said last week.
Videos showed officers apparently beating Hobbs, dragging him out of his cell, slamming him against a wall and repeatedly kicking him. Daniels said one of Hobbs’s dreadlocks was ripped from his scalp during the attack.
Exactly what happened before the videos remain unclear. Federal court documents from last month said Hobbs was reportedly kicking in the door to his cell and refused officers’ orders to stop. He alleged that Hobbs “tensed up, walked away, and a physical altercation ensued” after the officers entered the cell.
The document further stated that Hobbs was struck in the head by an officer, but also accused him of striking one officer in the face and another in the side of the head. One of the officers had a bruised eye and a broken hand, according to court records.
Daniels told the NBC affiliate WXIA of Atlanta that his client would have been justified in defending himself because he was unlawfully attacked. He said the officer broke his hand hitting a wall while he was punching Hobbs.
The incident prompted the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to launch separate investigations.
Daniels said the arrests are a “step toward justice,” but “the convictions and imprisonment are the final acts.”