ATLANTA – Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has been indicted on federal civil rights charges for ordering his employees to use excessive force against four pretrial detainees at the Clayton County Jail in 2020. The indictment alleges that Hill, without any legal justification, ordered his employees to strap the detainees into a restraint chair and keep them there for hours in violation of their constitutional rights. The indictment further alleges that Hill deprived the detainees of their due process rights because such use of force was unreasonable, amounted to punishment, and caused the detainees physical pain and bodily injury.
Hill is no stranger to controversy. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “In 2015, he accidentally shot a woman while practicing police tactics in an empty model home with what Hill assumed was a training weapon. The woman was critically injured. He later pleaded no contest to a single count of reckless conduct. His law enforcement certification was suspended in 2017 by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council”. However, he remained as sheriff of Clayton County.
“While the vast majority of our law enforcement officers perform their duties bravely, professionally, and with honor, those few who abuse their power must be held accountable,” said acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Our constitution prohibits law enforcement officers from using unreasonable force. Without justification, Sheriff Hill allegedly ordered four detainees to be strapped into restraint chairs for hours. In so doing, he caused pain and injury to the detainees in his care. Sheriff Hill’s actions, as alleged by the Grand Jury, deprived the citizens he was sworn to protect of their civil rights. Such abuses of power not only harm the victims, they also erode the community’s trust in law enforcement.”
“Badges and guns don’t come with the authority to ignore the Constitution. They come with the responsibility to protect it from anyone who would violate it, especially another public servant,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Christopher Macrae, FBI Atlanta. “Sheriff Hill is alleged to have abused his privileges and abandoned his responsibilities and the FBI is committed to restoring trust in law enforcement by holding him accountable.”
According to acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the indictment, and other information presented in court: The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO’s) “Inmate Restraint Chair Policy,” which was approved by Hill, states that “a restraint chair may be used by security staff to provide safe containment of an inmate exhibiting violent or uncontrollable behavior and to prevent self-injury, injury to others or property damage when control techniques are not effective.” Consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the policy emphasizes that use of a restraint chair “will never be authorized as a form of punishment.”