Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill Wednesday pending the final outcome of a federal indictment charging him with civil rights violations.
Hill was indicted in federal court in April on four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, charges that carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.
He is accused of ordering his employees to strap four pre-trial detainees at the Clayton County Jail into restraint chairs last year and leaving them there for hours.
“Our constitution prohibits law enforcement officers from using unreasonable force,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said at the time of the indictments. “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,” added Christopher Macrae, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Atlanta office. “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.”
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Hill has called the charges politically motivated. His lawyer said in April that restraint chairs are commonly used in jails across the nation.
Hill was first elected Clayton’s sheriff in 2004 but lost his re-election bid four years later. He won the job back in 2012, and was re-elected in 2016 and again last year.
This isn’t Hill’s first brush with the law in discharging his duties. He was acquitted in 2013 of charges that he had used the office of sheriff for personal gain.
Hill, a Democrat, served one term in the Georgia House of Representatives before being elected sheriff.
Kemp appointed a commission last month to review the indictment against Hill. In a report handed down Tuesday, the commission determined the charges would adversely affect the performance of his duties and recommended suspending him from office.
The suspension will continue pending the final disposition of the case or until Hill’s term expires, whichever comes first.
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