Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced the suspension of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, effective immediately, based on the recommendations of a commission, empowered by Kemp.
The suspension is effective immediately and will last until the case is decided or the end of Hill’s term in 2024, whichever comes first.
On April 27th, Hill was indicted for alleged civil rights abuses to detainees in Clayton County Jail. The indictment cites the sheriff’s office’s use of restraint chairs against four inmates. The indictment also alleges the sheriff ordered his employees to use excessive force at the jail last year.
“Today I will begin the process of fighting a politically motivated federal legal case,” Hill said in a statement on April 27th. “My legal team is the only ones authorized to speak on the details of this matter, and they are confident about the facts of this case.
“Meanwhile, as we go through this process, I will continue to focus on the mission of fighting crime in Clayton County for continued success.”
Hill was arraigned April 27th, pleaded not guilty, and was released on a $50,000 signature bond, as he awaits his next court date.
Federal law allows the usage of a restraint chair to keep inmates from harming themselves or someone else, but the chairs can not be used as a form of punishment.
Kemp ordered the three-person panel in May, a couple of weeks after Hill was indicted on federal charges of violating the civil rights of detainees at his jail.
The panel was made up of Attorney General Chris Carr, Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, and Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.
In the commission’s report to the Governor, it said the following:
“Although the Commission recognizes and gives weight to the Sheriff’s overwhelming popularity in Clayton County, the alleged restraint chair use by the Sheriff is not mitigated by his popularity. Indeed, the public – including citizens outside of Clayton County – has the right to trust that inmates are treated fairly and with respect while ensuring the safety of the detention center. In this situation, however, Sheriff Hill administered punishment without any justification for physical punishment.”
Georgia law provides the governor to convene a review commission made up of two sheriffs and the state attorney general to investigate and recommend whether a sheriff facing criminal or ethics charges should be suspended pending the outcome.