‘They make their own rules’: Attorney, former inmates accuse Camden County jail of systemic brutality, abuse

Civil rights attorney, NAACP say ‘ongoing pattern of brutality’ being covered up at jail

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – Since November, four guards at the Camden County Detention Center have been arrested on charges of battery against inmates, and the News4JAX I-TEAM learned a fifth was fired about three weeks ago for inappropriately using force.

The District Attorney has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to look into the most recent incident.

“This isn’t a couple of bad apples. This is a bad apple tree,” said civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, who is representing several former inmates.

He’s filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of his client Adam Drummond. The suit claims Drummond was strip searched and beaten when he was brought to the jail on a DUI charge in 2021. The complaint says he wasn’t combative, but he didn’t want to answer the officer’s questions. The suit alleges officers beat him so badly, it resulted in a traumatic brain injury

The suit also alleges the incident was covered up by jail officials.

The jail first came under scrutiny in November when attorneys released a video of guards beating inmate Jarett Hobbs. Three of the officers in the video were fired and were recently indicted by a grand jury.

RELATED: Three former Camden County Sheriff’s Officer employees indicted after inmate beating | I-TEAM: Camden County jail officers used force on Black inmates disproportionately, records show

Former deputy Ryan Biegal and detention officers Mason Garrick and Braxton Massey were indicted by a Camden County grand jury on charges of battery, simple battery, and two counts each of violations of oath by a public officer.

Hobbs was initially hit with 10 additional charges after the incident, but the charges were dropped once the video was released. The charges that landed him in jail were also dropped.

Another video that came to light earlier this month shows correctional officer Ja’Coby Anderson wrestling 23-year-old Zyaire Ratliff to the ground in the jail in March and punching him three times before another officer steps between them and waves Anderson off.

The Sheriff’s Office previously told News4JAX Ratliff was put on lockdown after the incident and Anderson was suspended for a day without pay and ordered to undergo additional training. Then the GBI got involved, and Anderson was arrested on charges of simple battery and violating his oath as a public officer on May 18. He was fired the same day, a Camden County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said.

Jail records show Anderson was released after posting a $1,500 bond.

“It’s a place where they make their own rules and whatever they say goes,” Ratliff said. “Once you come through that door it’s basically -- 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 happens.”

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the sheriff does not comment on pending litigation. He also said Sheriff Jim Proctor welcomes any review of incidents by an outside agency.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter