Georgia Sheriff Suspended After Indictment on Federal Civil Rights Charges
by David M. Reutter
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was suspended by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp following the review of a federal civil rights indictment that charged Hill with ordering excessive use of force against detainees.
Kemp’s June 2, 2021 administrative order was issued after a commission he ordered in May released its report. The commission’s members were charged with determining whether the indictment “relates to and adversely affects the administration of the office of Clayton County Sheriff such that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Hill ordered staff at the Clayton County Jail on four separate occasions in 2020 to strap pretrial detainees into a restraint chair “for a period exceeding that justified by any legitimate nonpunitive government purpose.”
A superseding indictment was filed in July for a fifth incident in which a man was allegedly placed in a restraint chair with a spit hood, punched in the face, and left for several hours.
The latest indictment describes Hill ordering the prisoner to be placed in the chair, and being present when the hood was placed on the prisoner’s head.
The commission’s June 1, 2021 report recommended Hill be suspended from office. Kemp’s order suspended Hill “without further action pending the final disposition of the case or until expiration of his term in office.”
Hill was first elected Sheriff in 2004. His tenure started with controversy when he fired 27 deputies on his first day in office in 2005. He had them escorted out of the building as snipers were positioned outside. The deputies were later reinstated after a lawsuit that resulted in a court order.
Four years later, Hill lost reelection, but he was again elected Sheriff in 2012. He was acquitted in 2013 on more than two dozen charges alleging he used his office for personal gain. Then in 2015, he fired a pistol and struck and wounded a friend at her workplace in Gwinnett County. The friend said the shooting was accidental.
More recently, in August 2021, a lawsuit was filed by Gabriel Arries against Sheriff Hill. It claims Clayton County deputies beat him in the shower area of the jail and placed him in a restraint chair. Arries was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with a severe brain injury, according to the lawsuit [See: Arries v. Hill et al, USDC N. Dist. GA, 1:21-cv-03588-SDG]. Another two lawsuits were filed against Hill and the county on October 11, 2021 by former prisoners Melvin McDay and Timothy O’Neil claiming they too were abused with restraint chair placements and inhumane conditions of confinement.
Hill has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges alleging violations of the detainee’s civil rights. He was released on a signature bond.
Despite his growing track record of abuses, Hill remains sheriff according to the county website. He is the first Black sheriff of Clayton County, located in the Atlanta metropolitan area. See: USA v. Hill, USDC N. Dist. GA, Case No.1:21-cr-00143-ELR-CCB.
Additional source: CNN.com, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Related legal cases
USA v. Hill
|USDC N. Dist. GA, Case No.1:21-cr-00143-ELR-CCB
Arries v. Hill et al
|USDC N. Dist. GA, 1:21-cv-03588-SDG