Suspended Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, who was scheduled to stand trial in September 26 on charges he violated pretrial detainees’ civil rights under color of law, will now go to trial on October 12 at 9 a.m., the AJC’s Leon Stafford reports.
A related pretrial conference and motions hearing will take place September 27 at 9:30 a.m.. Previously, these were scheduled for September 12.
Federal prosecutors say Hill allegedly abused his authority by strapping seven pretrial detainees into restraint chairs for extended periods of time as a form of punishment. Hill has pleaded not guilty in the case and has called the charges “politically motivated.”
In April 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia indicted Hill on four counts. In July 2021, a fifth pretrial detainee, “W.T.,” was named in a superseding indictment. In March 2022, two more pretrial detainees were added to the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor L. Ross will preside.
In another federal case pending before U.S. District Court, Jones et al. v. Hill et al., a motion to stay was granted June 6 while the parties work out a settlement agreement. This was a class action suit on behalf of pretrial detainees who were held during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rhonda Jones, Randolph Mitchell, Barry Watkins, and Michael Singleton filed the suit, alleging Hill did not take sufficient action to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside the jail.
At the time, Parker posted to CCSO’s Nixle account, “There is no outbreak of COVID-19 in our facility. The media has [sic] falsely exaggerated the facts to suit their story. As the Legal Advisor for the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, I have reviewed the allegations in the lawsuit, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit in a court of law, not in the press.”
One week later, The Clayton Crescent determined through an Open Records Request that health officials had told the jail’s medical contractor, CorrectHealth, as early as April 22, 2020 that the jail was suffering an outbreak. Less than a week after Parker’s statement, 68 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 and one had died.
The 112-page suit detailed conditions in the jail during the early pandemic, when inmates alleged they had no access to face masks and were forced to improvise with dirty towels and underwear and that overcrowded cells, kiosks, sinks, and toilets were not routinely sanitized.
Listen to The Clayton Crescent’s interview with attorneys Kosha Tucker and Sara Gereighty about the case:
Read the full 112-page complaint:
The parties have four months to come to mutually-agreeable terms, according to the court docket. If the stay is terminated, either side can make a motion for a 30-day discovery period. If no one moves to reopen the case, it will be dismissed.
Hill has several other cases pending in federal court as of press time. His one-time chief of staff, Mitzi Bickers, is scheduled for sentencing on nine counts related to the Atlanta City Hall bribery scandal on July 12. Her attorney, Drew Findling, has said Bickers will appeal to the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Bickers’ political consulting company, Pirouette Companies, has been transferred to her partner’s name and continues to provide campaign consulting services for several candidates in recent elections. Among Pirouette’s clients in 2022 were Clayton County District 1 Commissioner Alieka Anderson and District 4 candidate Janice Scott. Other Clayton County figures who have employed Bickers as a political consultant include State Sen. Gail Davenport, State Sen. Valencia Seay, former BOC District 3 Commissioner and now Superior Court Judge Shana Rooks Malone, State Rep. Yasmin Neal, former State Sen. and U.S. House District 13 challenger Vincent Fort.
Other Bickers customers include former State Rep. and U.S. House District 10 candidate Vernon Jones, as well as former councilman and now Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
Two months before her federal indictment in 2018, Bickers was appointed to the Henry County Development Authority by Commissioner Bruce Holmes. However, the Henry County Board of Commissioners rescinded her appointment shortly before Bickers was indicted in March, installing Pierre O. Clements instead.
Bickers had been Human Services director under former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed but was forced to resign for failing to disclose her outside income from her campaign consulting work.
During Bickers’ federal corruption trial, government witness E.R. Mitchell testified that Bickers had referred to Atlanta Public Works project manager Rita Braswell and Atlanta Departmetn of Transportation Deputy Director Cotena Alexander as being “our people” in the bribery scheme. The Dickens administration later fired both women.
Hill had employed Bickers as a political consultant in his own election campaigns and hired her as a jailhouse chaplain after she was forced to resign from the City of Atlanta for failing to disclose that outside income. Within a few years, Hill had promoted Bickers from an entry-level jailhouse chaplain to “chief chaplain” and then chief of staff at a six-figure salary. Bickers has no Georgia POST law enforcement certification.
On Tuesday, WSB’s Richard Belcher reported the City of Atlanta’s inspector general found that Reed had spent about $83,000 in city funds on a business-class junket to South Africa, COBRA insurance after he left office, and a donation to Howard University. The IG says Reed should pay back the money, while Reed says he did nothing wrong because the money came from a salary increase he had turned down. The South Africa plane tickets, which Reed had said were reimbursed by a nonprofit agency, “was essentially laundered through the city’s development authority,” according to reporting by WSB and the AJC.