Victor Hill: 1st sheriff in US charged with use of restraint chair that resulted in no bodily injury

Victor Hill: 1st sheriff in US charged with use of restraint chair that resulted in no bodily injury
Victor Hill (Image source: Clayton County Sherriff’s Office)

Popular and infamous Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was criminally charged by the feds a few weeks ago for allegedly violating the civil rights of four inmates inside of the Clayton County Jail in Georgia for causing pain and bodily injury. However, the indictment does not show any proof of bodily injury, which the feds must demonstrate for the charges to be sustained. Based on documents obtained from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and local news reports, the only outcry was made by a Caucasian male inmate; the remaining three alleged victims were solicited by the federal government.

According to jail records, one of the alleged victims is still in Hill’s custody. There are no reports of any physical violation of the inmate. There is new information surfacing as to the unique circumstances surrounding Hill’s federal indictment.

The indictment indicates Hill ordered his employees to use excessive force against four pretrial detainees, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. The indictment also alleges the practice “caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury” to the detainees. Restraint chairs are legal devices and used by health care facilities and jails to protect individuals from harming themselves or others. Ironically, what seems to be absent from the wording of the indictment is “bodily injury.” Sources close to the investigation have questioned why Hill was charged with a federal criminal statute rather than a civil statute, which is typically done in similar cases involving a member of law enforcement. Hill, being no stranger to overcoming controversy, was the first-ever elected African American sheriff in Clayton County.

According to 11 Alive News, former federal prosecutor Brett Williams believes the case will be difficult to prove, even if prosecutors have video from inside the jail.

Hill’s legal counsel, Marissa Goldberg said, “The indictment against Sheriff Hill is unprecedented in that we believe that it is the first time a law enforcement officer has been charged with a criminal civil rights violation for the mere use of a lawful restraint tool. Unlike the typical criminal civil rights prosecution, there is no allegation of the use of force on a restrained person, physical violence, and/or any sort of attempted cover-up. What is true is that all proper protocol was followed and documented, and there were always health care professionals monitoring every use of the restraint chair. The bottom line is that the federal government disagreed with the decision to use the restraint chair, second-guessed the decision-making of a duly elected sheriff, and indicted him for those decisions.”

There are sheriffs around the U.S. who have been accused of serious crimes against inmates, some with proof, but many of them have been able to pay a civil fine or avoid an investigation altogether.

Residents of Clayton County don’t seem to be phased by the recent legal issues with their sheriff. Fox 5 News reported Hill even has support from human and civil rights organizations, including New Order Human Rights Inc., led by well-known activist Gerald Rose. The group released the following statement soon after the indictment of Hill: “As a human rights organization, we take all accusations of Constitutional Rights violations seriously. It is extremely rare for us to support a member of law enforcement who has been accused of such a violation. However, our legal analysts at New Order National Human Rights organization have thoroughly reviewed the federal indictment against Sheriff Victor Hill and have come to the conclusion that Sheriff Hill did not violate the rights of anyone. This seems like a massive overreach from the federal government.”

Rose added, “There are Black and Brown citizens being killed by police across the country and these officers never receive a federal indictment. To charge the first Black elected sheriff with multiple felonies for a legal and commonly used law enforcement restraint chair is beyond comprehension. We stand with the community of Clayton County and Sheriff Hill.”

—Written by Kelvin Cobb, a simple but caring man who looks for details others may miss.

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