ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta-area sheriff is facing an additional charge in a federal prosecution accusing him of violating the civil rights of people in his agency’s custody by ordering that they be strapped into a restraint chair without justification and as punishment.
A federal grand jury in April indicted Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, finding that he had violated the civil rights of four people at the jail. The indictment says the men suffered pain and bodily injury when they were held for hours in a restraint chair even though they had complied with deputies and posed no threat.
The indictment says Hill had regularly received training on the use of restraint chairs, which may be used with a violent or uncontrollable person to prevent injury or property damage if other techniques aren’t effective. Force may not be used as punishment, the indictment says.
A new indictment filed last Thursday adds an additional alleged victim.
The new indictment is “a desperate Hail Mary by the government in response to Sheriff Hill’s powerful motion to dismiss,” defense attorney Drew Findling said, adding that the government knew about the allegations in question when it filed its initial indictment and decided not to include them then.
“Most importantly, there is no allegation that Sheriff Hill himself or anyone at his direction physically assaulted or touched this individual,” Findling said.
The new alleged victim in the new indictment was arrested in May 2020, accused of speeding and driving with a suspended Florida driver’s license. Once he was at the jail, Hill ordered him put in a restraint chair even though he wasn’t aggressive, the indictment says.
While he was in the chair and while Hill was present, a sheriff’s office employee put a hood over the man’s head and he was hit twice in the face, the indictment says. A jail officer later asked if he was “the one they beat up?” and then covered the blood on the man’s jail uniform with a white paper smock and took a photo of him, the indictment says.