Markeith Council took the stand at his trial Wednesday morning. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter in connection with 40-year-old Shon McClain's death.
Surveillance video played for the courtroom Tuesday morning showed an encounter between Council and McClain on June 4.
The video, which did not include audio, showed McClain with a towel around his neck, approaching Council. The two began to argue and Council was seen pushing McClain, who fell to the floor, then got back up and moved toward the jailer.
Council testified Wednesday that McClain was mad at him from an earlier incident when McClain claimed his hand was nearly shut in a trap door.
McClain was seen on the video raising his hands and then swinging at Council. The corrections officer threw McClain to the concrete floor, then picked him up and did it again -- head first.
McClain never regained consciousness and was on life support for almost two weeks at WakeMed before he died.
According to his autopsy, he died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
On the stand Wednesday, Council said he didn't intend to thrown McClain on his head or to injure him so seriously.
He said it all happened so fast that all he could think of was he had just been assaulted and had to rely on his training.
"I've got to get him off of me and get him secured, because I'm in dorm with 55 other inmates so my mindset is I've got to get him secured and get my head up," Council said.
Council also told jurors he hopes to someday be a warden, and that he is a father of three. His wife, who is pregnant, is a Raleigh police officer.
According to court documents, McClain was in jail on charges of drinking at a Raleigh bus station and possession of paraphernalia. He was from Apex.
Council is suspended without pay from the Wake County Sheriff's Office.
Deliberations resumed at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.