Former Hamblen Co. inmate sues for $5 million after alleged jail beating

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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) — A former inmate of the Hamblen County Jail, Jeremy Garcia, is suing the Hamblen County government, Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin, Captain of the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department Teresa Laws, corrections officers Dustin Tharp and Eric Rice, and about 10 anonymous employees of the sheriff’s department.

In the lawsuit, Garcia says a “violent and angry” inmate was paid to beat him while he slept on the floor of the jail. Court documents say the defendants in the case had chances to avert the attack after several warnings that Garcia’s safety was in jeopardy.

The lawsuit says Garcia has intellectual disabilities and was repeatedly threatened, harassed and intimidated by men affiliate with a ring of violent inmates, known as “The House.” Garcia was transferred to another area of the jail.

Months later, when Garcia was incarcerated again, he asked corrections officers to not house him with his aggressors, but, according to the lawsuit, his request was denied. That’s when a member of The House solicited another inmate to beat Garcia.

Documents claim Garcia had his mother call the sheriff and jail administrator to move him, but that never happened.

That’s when Garcia claims he was beaten by another inmate. His injuries included multiple fractures to his face, a concussion, a cut on his scalp and a hemorrhage in his eye. Garcia needed emergency surgery. The lawsuit says Garcia has post-traumatic stress and needs on-going therapy for “severe cognitive difficulties.”

The inmate was charged with aggravated assault.

Documents also accuse defendants of turning the jail into a “house of mayhem” by packing inmates together in the overcrowded jail, poorly supervising with an understaffed and under-trained staff, not monitoring the jail, not separating inmates based on criminal classification, and housing the inmates in a building that’s not conducive to safety.

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