Georgia sheriff indicted on federal civil rights charges suspended by governor after review by panel
A Georgia sheriff has been suspended from office after a panel judged him unable to serve while facing federal civil rights charges, Gov. Brian Kemp announced in an executive order.
A “Review Commission,” made up of the state attorney general and two other sheriffs, reviewed the charges against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and determined the indictment “does relate to and adversely affect the administration of the office of Sheriff,” according to Kemp’s executive order.
The panel recommended the suspension of Hill, according to the order. Kemp on Wednesday signed the order suspending Hill. The suspension will continue until charges against Hill are resolved or until his term is over, according to the order.
Following his suspension, Hill issued a statement on Facebook, saying he planned to use his suspension to “train and meditate.” He added he was “honored” by the support he’s received.
Hill was indicted by a federal grand jury in April after prosecutors alleged he used unreasonable force when ordering pretrial detainees to be restrained for hours even as they complied with police.
In one instance, two detainees were strapped side-by-side in restraint chairs for hours, according to the indictment. When the two were not allowed to use the bathroom, one urinated on himself, prosecutors said.
Drew Findling, a lawyer for Hill, told the Associated Press his client is disappointed by the governor’s order.
“However, we remain confident that, ultimately, Sheriff Hill will be completely exonerated,” Findling said. “Thereafter, the executive order will be moot, and the citizens of Clayton County will have Sheriff Hill, their duly elected sheriff, back in office.”
Hill remains free on bond while his case is pending.
Georgia sheriff indicted on federal civil rights violations for ‘unreasonable’ use of restraint chair
In the April indictment, prosecutors alleged Hill used unreasonable force despite receiving training that force may not be used as punishment. He also approved a policy that emphasized the restraint chair “will never be authorized as a form of punishment,” but only used with a violent or uncontrollable person to prevent injury or property damage if other techniques are ineffective, according to the indictment.
Christopher Macrae, a special agent with the FBI in Atlanta, said in an April statement Hill “abused his privileges and abandoned his responsibilities.”
“Badges and guns don’t come with the authority to ignore the Constitution,” he said.
Hill’s actions have garnered controversy since his first day of office in 2005 when he fired 27 deputies. The New York Times reported he ordered snipers to stand guard as the deputies were escorted out. As part of a tough-on-crime stance, Hill used tanks and military equipment during drug raids.
Hill was acquitted of more than two dozen corruption charges in 2013 and pleaded no contest to a reckless conduct charge in 2016 after shooting and injuring a woman in May 2015. Hill and the woman said it was an accident that happened while they were practicing police tactics.
Contributing: Associated Press
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