ATLANTA — As early as this week a decision could be made on whether Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill's law enforcement certification will be suspended.
Then in the coming weeks, Governor Brian Kemp could have an opportunity to decide whether to suspend Hill completely from the sheriff's office until the federal criminal case against him is resolved.
Earlier this week, 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 four hours at a time.
The indictment describes the inmates as being "unarmed, not under the influence of drugs, and offered no resistance."
According to the indictment, the chair was used as a form of punishment that caused pain and bodily injuries to the inmates.
Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council oversees certification for law enforcement officers.
The agency's Executive Director Mike Ayers tells 11Alive he will review the indictment this week and could make a decision in the coming days of whether he will issue an emergency suspension of Hill's certification.
"Certainly because of the seriousness of the situation we will move as rapidly as we can, but we still want to be thorough," Ayers said. "We will have to make a decision of whether to issue an emergency suspension of Sheriff Hill."
The emergency suspension would limit Hill's ability to perform law enforcement tasks, but wouldn't remove him from the sheriff's office.
"What his suspension for certification would prevent him from doing is actually performing law enforcement functions in and of himself. In other words, he wouldn't have any individual powers of arrest," Ayers said.
Ayers added an emergency suspension from GA POST Council remains in place until the agency determines the suspension should be lifted or the criminal case against an officer is resolved.
Hill's certification was suspended in 2012 as he faced 37 felony charges. Clayton County's Sheriff was eventually cleared of all 37 charges and his certification was restored.
Meanwhile, Governor Brian Kemp could completely sideline Hill from the sheriff's office until the sheriff has his day in court.
Under Georgia state law when a sheriff is indicted on felony charges, the Georgia Attorney General is directed to send a certified copy of the indictment to the governor.
The governor then reviews the indictment and appoints a review commission composed of the attorney general and two sheriffs.
The commission is given 14 days to return a report to the governor, either recommending or not recommending the indicted sheriff be suspended.
If, and only if, a suspension is recommended the governor may then issue an executive order suspending the sheriff. If convicted of felony charges, state law calls for a sheriff to be removed from office.
Most recently in 2017, Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby following an illegal search at Worth County High School. Hobby later entered a guilty plea for several charges connected to the search.