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"I can't hear," he said.
Jones told him to go sweep the gym and come back. Deputy Johnson led the inmate out of the tower, down to the floor. "Are you all right, man?" Hubbard recalled Johnson asking. "Are you OK?"
"No. I can't hear."
Johnson allegedly gave Hubbard a tissue to catch the blood dripping from his ear. But the deputy refused the inmate's plea to go to the clinic.
A couple of hours later, Hubbard called for a sergeant and said he needed to see a doctor. The jail physician who examined Hubbard noted his ear was "full of blood." The next day, Hubbard went to Grady Hospital and was diagnosed with traumatic perforation of the eardrum.
Internal affairs learned of the injury and interviewed the three guards. Sgt. Jackson said she wasn't in the tower while Hubbard was there. Johnson said he didn't see any hitting or injury.
Jones said he never touched Hubbard; he merely counseled him and then sent him on his way.
Both Jones and Johnson did remember a valuable detail a few days later, when they gave internal affairs their written statements.
Jones wrote that while he was reprimanding Hubbard for asking too many questions through the pipe, Hubbard seemed to have trouble understanding him. "I didn't know the inmate had some type of hearing problem," Jones wrote. "The hearing problem he alleged ... apparently was only a problem when he was being told he was out of line."
Johnson, in his written statement, recalled that he once heard someone mention that Hubbard "always had a hearing problem."
Two months later, on Oct. 20, 1999, the two deputies and Sgt. Jackson went to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation headquarters to take lie detector tests. But Johnson, once he got there, refused the test -- just as he refused the breath test after the Waffle House incident.
With no polygraph machine running, the GBI investigator asked Johnson a question anyway: Did you see Deputy Jones strike the inmate? "Deputy Johnson nodded his head up and down," the investigator wrote to Fulton internal affairs.
Johnson refused the test again, two months later. When he finally submitted in January 2000, the test was inconclusive. Internal affairs noted the results "showed a pattern of a person who would hold there (sic) breath or try to control there (sic) breathing to get around the instruments."
Jones and Jackson took their tests as scheduled. Jones denied hitting the inmate. Jackson denied witnessing the encounter. Both of them failed.
After the test, Jackson recanted her statement, telling the GBI agent she had been in the tower and had heard Jones cursing the inmate. She still denied seeing anything.
After Jones failed the test, the agent asked him to explain what really happened with Hubbard in the tower. "Deputy Jones made a poking motion with his left hand and a[n] open-handed slapping motion with his right hand," a GBI investigator noted. He wrote that Jones would not confirm the beating in words. He would only say that he "could have hit inmate Hubbard, but he could not remember doing it."
For being untruthful about their involvement, Jackson got a written warning and Johnson got a two-day suspension.
For striking the inmate so hard it cost him a portion of his hearing, and for hiding the truth, Jones received a five-day suspension.
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