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Suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill found guilty on most charges in federal abuse trial

Hill was first indicted last year, later suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp and faces a lawsuit related to alleged inmate abuse.

ATLANTA — A jury found a suspended Clayton County sheriff guilty on six of seven federal abuse charges on Wednesday afternoon.  

Victor Hill was accused of violating the constitutional rights of seven Clayton County jail inmates by forcing them into restraint chairs for hours at a time with little provocation. Hill told the jury he did it to maintain order in the jail.

Jurors returned after the weekend on Monday to continue deliberations, which ran through Wednesday. They ultimately found him guilty on all counts except for count five.

The jury foreperson filed two complaints -- about four hours apart on Tuesday -- indicating one particular juror was preventing other jurors from rendering unanimous verdicts against the suspended Clayton County sheriff.

RELATED: Drama around holdout juror, 'bullying' accusation clouds Victor Hill case

Prosecutors and Hill's attorneys made their closing arguments on Friday. Many of Hill's top staff testified during the trial, "not a single law enforcement officer gave any reason to put these people in the chair – except the sheriff told me to do it," assistant U.S. attorney Brent Gray told jurors. 

RELATED: Federal jury to decide guilt or innocence for suspended Clayton County sheriff

Hill testified in his own defense last week, telling jurors that inmates strapped to a chair were chosen because of the totality of their behavior, not just their behavior in the jail. Prosecutors said that's against the law. 

Despite this case and another brush with the law in 2015 when he accidentally shot a friend, Hill has stayed popular with voters and has been Clayton County's sheriff for 14 years.

RELATED: Attorneys give opening statements, call witnesses in trial of suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill

Following this federal indictment involving the inmates, Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Hill pending the trial's outcome. Hill's defense attorney, Drew Findling, told jurors he's serving the voters – even "if he has to make it a little uncomfortable to make sure everybody and every employee is in a safe environment." 

Findling said inmates strapped and cuffed into the chair – some for four hours at a time -- were not abused.

More on Victor Hill

Victor Hill is widely known in metro Atlanta. He calls himself “The Crime Fighter” and uses Batman imagery to promote himself on social media and in campaign ads. 

This is his second trial on criminal charges. Clayton County voters reelected Hill in 2012 while he was under indictment the first time, accused of using his office for personal gain. He beat those charges.

RELATED: Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill still widely supported despite controversy amid ongoing trial

In April 2021, a 12-page federal indictment was unsealed, charging Hill with four felonies. Prosecutors argue Hill violated the civil rights of four Clayton County jail inmates in 2020. Hill is accused in the indictment of directing the inmates to be strapped into restraint chairs for hours at a time. 

A new indictment was brought against Hill in March, adding two new charges to his criminal case. The first indictment listed four victims, and a first superseding indictment brought that total to five. 

RELATED: Final pretrial conference indicates federal trial will be about Victor Hill, not 'Batman' sheriff

In one instance, a man arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at two men outside his home in Jonesboro was booked into the Clayton County Jail. When he denied the allegations against him, Hill allegedly told staffers to "put his a** in the chair," where he was left strapped for hours under the orders of Hill.

Another man was arrested at his home in Hampton for allegedly possessing drugs and illegal firearms and was "compliant and never posed a threat to anyone" upon being taken into custody, according to the indictments. When he told Hill he did not want to speak to him, the sheriff allegedly ordered him into a restraint chair and, similarly, he was left strapped there for hours.

RELATED: Detainees testify in federal trial of suspended Clayton County sheriff

Another alleged victim responded, "it's a democracy," when the sheriff asked him why he was in Clayton County, according to the document. He also asked twice if he was entitled to a fair and speedy trial, to which Hill allegedly replied: "You entitled to sit in this chair, and you’re entitled to get the hell out of my county and don’t come back. That’s what you’re entitled to. You sound like a d*** jacka**."

In another instance, a 17-year-old was allegedly left in the restraint chair. In one alleged incident, Hill told two detainees already strapped into restraint chairs that he would "sit your a** in that chair for sixteen hours straight" if they repeated criminal behavior.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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