Three inmates in a Georgia jail have been commended for rushing to save one of their guards who passed out and split his head open.
The incident, which drew attention on social media, has sparked a flurry of donations to the inmates' accounts.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office said the inmates had pounded on their cell doors when they saw the deputy fall — when he awoke, he thought an inmate needed help and released the cell doors to free them.
The three inmates, Terry Loveless, Walter Whitehead, and Mitchell Smalls, then came to his aid and used his phone and radio to call for help.
The inmates later said in a video that they knew the guard would have done the same for them, and that they couldn't just leave him bleeding on the ground.
Georgia authorities have commended three inmates for their "courage, determination, and kindness" after they rushed to the aid of a guard who passed out and split his head open on the concrete floor.
Now, after the incident spread across social media, people across the country have begun sending the inmates money to thank them for their effort.
The incident began when the inmates noticed that a guard looked ill while he was working in the jail housing unit, and kept watch while he returned to his desk, then passed out and fell to the floor, according to a statement from the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office.
The inmates quickly started pounding on their doors and shouting the guard's name.
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"Soon the entire unit was thundering with noise as many inmates pounded on the doors shouting for our deputy who lay unconscious and heavily bleeding on the floor," the statement said.
The deputy eventually became aware of the pounding sound and started to wake up. Fearing that the inmates needed help, he pressed a control panel that opened up the cells' doors and released the inmates, before immediately passing out again, according to the statement.
That's when the three inmates rushed to the deputy and started using his phone and radio to call for aid, the sheriff's department said. The deputy is now recovering at home.
One inmate said he 'couldn't just watch a man die out there'
Facebook/Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office
The sheriff's office later identified the inmates as Terry Loveless, Walter Whitehead, and Mitchell Smalls. After the story of the inmates' rescue sparked national attention, the sheriff's office posted a video of the men describing why they had come to the deputy's aid.
"For me, as a Black man, I know there's a lot of scrutiny on police officers and stuff like that. I can't imagine this world without police, so I have great respect for law enforcement and the job that they do," Smalls said. "So, for me, I had to step in. I couldn't just watch a man die out there."
Whitehead agreed, adding that the deputy is known for being "very respectful" in the unit.
"He comes in the unit every night and respects every guy in there and they respect him back," Whitehead said. I couldn't just see him laid in that chair, passed out, I wanted to do everything I could to get out of our cell and to run his aid in, because I know he would do the same for us."
Loveless, who has been incarcerated in the jail since 2017, according to jail records, noted that he'd seen deputies rushing to the aid of inmates "numerous" times over the years, so he returned the gesture.
"When you see them running down the hall, you'd think they were running for their lives, but they're actually running to save a life," he said. "So we didn't do anything for Deputy Hobbs that he would not have done for us, and there's not a doubt in my mind. He's a wonderful man, a good officer, we're thankful for him, and we can't wait for him to get back to work."
The sheriff's office wrote on Facebook that jail officials had arranged for the entire unit to have a pizza party after the incident and that the inmates "loved it." the office also said Sheriff Butch Conway has received "numerous inquiries" about how people can add funds to inmates' accounts, and provided a link for sending money online.
The sheriff's office said the incident was an example of the mutual respect shared by both the guard and the inmates.
"Many people have strong opinions about law enforcement officers and criminals, but this incident clearly illustrates the potential goodness found in both," the statement said. "These inmates came to his aid because our deputy, like most law enforcement officers, treats people with the dignity they deserve. These inmates had no obligation whatsoever to render aid to a bleeding, vulnerable deputy, but they didn't hesitate."
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