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Former Georgia sheriff who ordered detainees to be strapped to restraint chair sentenced to 18 months prison

<i>Gene Blythe/AP</i><br/>Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was convicted of 6 civil rights charges in October 2022.
Gene Blythe/AP
Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was convicted of 6 civil rights charges in October 2022.

By Melissa Alonso and Jennifer Henderson, CNN

The former sheriff of a suburban Atlanta county was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison on civil rights charges related to his treatment of incarcerated people, according to the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Victor Hill, previously the Clayton County sheriff, was found guilty in October 2022 on six counts related to incidents in which prosecutors said he ordered detainees to be strapped into a restraint chair and left there for hours.

Restraint chairs are sometimes used in prisons and hospitals to control those who could injure themselves or others. Hill’s orders “caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury” to the detainees, court documents said.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Eleanor Ross sentenced Hill to 18 months in prison followed by 6 years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service.

After the sentencing, defense attorney Drew Findling said the Department of Justice had chased a “shiny object” in prosecuting Hill rather than addressing deeper issues in the prison system, such as the use of solitary confinement.

“The fact that he has been singled out, to us, still remains somewhat of a disgrace,” Findling said. He added he plans to appeal the case.

CNN has reached out to the sheriff’s office for a statement.

The sentence comes about two years after Hill was indicted on federal civil rights charges for directing his staff at the Clayton County Jail to strap pretrial detainees into a restraint chair for an excessive period in four separate incidents in 2020, according to a release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Hill was first elected as Clayton County sheriff in 2004 and lost a reelection bid four years later. He won in 2012 to return to the position and most recently was reelected in 2020 as an unopposed candidate. In the wake of the indictment, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp suspended him from his position.

Hill as sheriff has not been without controversy, aspiring to the image of a tough-on-crime administrator who activists and critics have felt has abused his powers. On his first day in office in 2005, he fired 27 deputies and had them escorted out of their building as snipers were positioned outside, according to CNN affiliate WSB. Courts intervened and the deputies were later reinstated.

In 2013, he was acquitted on more than two dozen charges alleging he had used the office for personal gain, according to WSB.

In 2015, Hill fired a pistol that struck and wounded a friend at her workplace in Gwinnett County, according to CNN affiliate WXIA. The victim told authorities the shooting was accidental and Hill continued his tenure as sheriff.

In 2020, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department was involved in an excessive use-of-force incident, which the department said was subject to an internal investigation requested by Hill. The deputy in question was fired shortly after.

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CNN’s Eric Levenson, Natasha Chen and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.

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