What did Victor Hill do? Case explored as Georgia sheriff is found guilty of violating the civil rights of detainees

Victor Hill (Image via Audrey Washington/Twitter)
Victor Hill (Image via Audrey Washington/Twitter)

On Wednesday, October 26, Georgia Sheriff Victor Hill was convicted on six of the seven federal counts of violating pretrial detainees' civil rights.

According to court documents, he strapped incarcerated people into a restraint chair for hours without probable cause, and his decision "caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury."

Hill was found not guilty on one count, where he was accused of causing physical pain to a person identified as "J.H."

Restraint chairs are often used in prisons and hospitals to bind individuals deemed dangerous or at risk of injuring themselves. The jury decided that Hill, who was suspended last year, unjustifiably strapped the detainees into a chair.

Everything you need to know of the convicted Georgia Sheriff, Victor Hill

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill (Image via nytimes)
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill (Image via nytimes)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp suspended Victor Hill in June 2021 after the Clayton County Sheriff was indicted in April for ordering his officers to use excessive force against four pretrial detainees.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine issued a statement addressing Hill's indictment, where the Georgia sheriff pleaded not guilty. Erskine said that individuals who abuse their power should be held accountable in the court of law. The statement read:

"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. Our constitution prohibits law enforcement officers from using unreasonable force."

First elected in 2004, the Georgian sheriff's stint in office has been embroiled in controversy. Activists have alleged that Hill abused his powers by exercising unlawful methods under the guise of a tough-on-crime administrator. Shortly after Hill was sworn into his office in 2005, he fired 27 deputies - later reinstated by court order - by escorting them out as snipers waited outside the building.

In the ensuing years, Hill lost his re-election bid until he emerged as the winner of the 2012 election. Shortly after he was sworn into office, Hill was accused of abusing his power for personal gain during his first tenure between 2004 and 2008. However, acquitted of all charges, Hill retained his position as sheriff of Clayton County until his suspension in June 2021.

Following his suspension, Hill took to Facebook to address the issue. The statement read:

“Today, I have been placed on suspension until I am exonerated in court. I will take this time to train and meditate so that when I return, and ground loss will be regained. Until then may GOD bless you all, and may he continue to bless Clayton County.”

Victor Hill's administration was investigated in 2020

In 2020, under Victor Hill's administration, the Clayton County Sheriff's Department was investigated for an excessive use-of-force incident, after which the deputy was fired.

Shortly after Hill's conviction, federal defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer said that each count carries a maximum life sentence. However, Hill's attorney, Drew Findling, said that they will appeal the case.

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Edited by Shreya Das
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