Newton Jail

ATLANTA — A former Newton County Sheriff’s Office jailer has been ordered to pay more than $638,000 in damages for his participation in an attack on an inmate in the jail in June 2019.

U.S. District Judge William Ray II issued an order Nov. 8 requiring Shermaine Alberto Carlisle, 40, of Conyers, to pay damages to inmate Sean Aaron Hall, 38. The court had previously entered a default judgement for liability against Carlisle following a bench trial in June.

Carlisle was working at the Newton County Jail in May 2019 when Hall was arrested on charges of giving a false name, address or birthdate to law enforcement and possession of methamphetamine. For reasons that have not been explained, a month later Carlisle admitted three inmates into Hall’s cell. One held the door closed to prevent Hall’s escape while the other two beat him savagely and left him unconscious and bleeding on the floor.

Although the beating initially appeared to be an inmate-on-inmate incident, Hall’s attorney, Mark Begnaud, wrote that the ensuing investigation revealed that Carlisle allowed the inmates to have access to Hall’s cell, and facilitated and orchestrated the attack.

“Mr. Carlisle was charged with securing and protecting our client, and he did the exact opposite – he conspired with other inmates to brutally attack Mr. Hall,” said Begnaud in a Facebook post.

“We are pleased with Judge Ray’s award,” said Begnaud. “A worry in an inmate case is that the damages award will be discounted because the client is in custody – we see people who do not want to award that much money to an inmate. Obviously, that did not happen here. We asked for $150,000 in compensatory damages and that was what Judge Ray awarded. We believe that this award is an indication of the new times we are living in – where the fact that a person is in custody does not mean that we value his or her life or injuries any less. We also hope that this is a warning to any corrections facilities in Georgia that misconduct can come with staggering consequences.”

Jail video of the attack revealed Carlisle’s involvement in the incident. According to the judge’s ruling, Carlisle spoke “at length” with the three inmates at the jail pod control panel immediately before the attack. Two of the inmates are seen taking off their jail IDs and leaving them on the table with Carlisle before approaching Hall’s cell. Carlisle released the lock on Hall’s cell, allowing the inmates to enter.

Carlisle was later arrested and charged with battery and making false statements or writings and fired from the Sheriff’s Office. Carlisle was never prosecuted in Newton County, however. The warrant against him was dismissed in August 2020 due to “insufficient investigation” by the Sheriff’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss citing failure by the Sheriff’s Office to provide the DA’s Office with “several recorded witness interviews, failure to identify all the inmates on video committing and assisting with the underlying crime, failure to provide requested inmate records from the jail, and failing to write any disciplinary reports by the Newton County Jail staff regarding the incident.” According to the DA’s Office, without that information, the charges could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

District Attorney Randy McGinley said because the case was dismissed without prejudice, the charges could still be presented to a grand jury within the statute of limitations.

According to a spokesperson for the NCSO, the Sheriff’s Office “separated itself from Detention Officer Shermaine Carlisle because he did not follow policies and procedures. We will not make further comment at this time.”

Hall suffered serious physical, cognitive and emotional and psychological injuries, according to the court’s ruling. The court ordered Carlisle to pay compensatory damages of $150,000 to Hall, punitive damages of $450,000 and attorney’s fees of $38,250, for a total of $638,250.

Carlisle told the court that he has been unemployed since being fired by the Sheriff’s Office and that his wife is also unemployed. He also told the judge he has lost his POST certification.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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