Former Clayton County sheriff Victor Hill may be a federal inmate, but he is still a named defendant in several cases pending in the U.S. Northern District of Georgia. Sheriff Levon Allen is also named as a defendant in several of these cases—sometimes procedurally, sometimes directly.

While Hill and other defendants are considered innocent of all charges unless and until found guilty in a court of law, Hill’s actions as sheriff continue to cost Clayton County taxpayers money. Should more of these cases be found for the plaintiffs, the county—not to mention property owners—will be on the hook for any monetary judgments or settlements.

Here’s a quick summary of several active cases.

Gabriel Arries v. Victor Hill et al.

In 2021, Gabriel Arries, a man who lives with bipolar and mood disorder, was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and taken to the Clayton County Jail, which handles people who are arrested at the airport.

Arries alleges that Hill and CCSO’s Rashawn Johnson, James Stewart, Jr., Jelani Foster, Montez Hawkins, Sydney Cannon, David Evans, Benjamin Walker, Jr. and John Does 1 and 2 violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights. The latest documents filed in federal court only list Hill, Foster, and Evans as defendants.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, a CorrectHealth nurse, Rebecca Estrill, was informed of Arries’ medical condition. Arries allegedly was unaware that he was in the state of Georgia and was shouting racial epithets. Several deputies then responded to a ramp call, where several allegedly beat Arries, placed him in a restraint chair for four hours, took him out, beat him again, put him back in the chair, claimed he was on “suicide watch,” and placed him in a cell with a violent offender. The complaint alleges an “altercation” broke out, that Arries was Tased and left covered in feces with 20 lacerations. Later, he was transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with “a severe traumatic brain injury, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and closed fracture of nasal bone as a result of the repeated, malicious, and violent attacks from Defendants Johnson, Stewart, Hawkins, Foster, Cannon, Evans and Walker and potentially other officers.” CCSO contends Arries was noncompliant when they came in to break up the fight.

On June 6, Hill’s attorneys filed a notice that they would take a video deposition from Arries on July 25. On July 12, Hill, who was not directly involved in the incident but who was responsible for the officers under his command, will give a deposition at FCI Forrest City Low in Arkansas.

Objectors include former Interim Sheriff Roland Boehrer, current Sheriff Levon Allen, CorrectHealth, and Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp., an Alabama-based company that sells security and door-monitoring systems for jails, prisons, and corrections facilities. The company was added to the case on May 16.

Allen as named defendant in 7 federal cases

1:19-cv-02200-JPBSweeting v. Allenfiled 05/15/19
1:19-cv-05746-JPB-RDCHandsford v. Sheriff of Clayton County, Levon Allenfiled 12/20/19
1:20-cv-00186-JPBWilliams v. Allenfiled 01/13/20   closed 05/19/23
1:21-cv-01471-CAP-CCBCampbell v. Allenfiled 04/13/21
1:21-cv-05055-ELR-RGVPitts et al v. Hillfiled 12/10/21
1:23-cv-00057-ELRGoodwine v. Hill et alfiled 01/05/23
1:23-cv-01533-LMMHamilton v. Hill et alfiled 04/10/23

Kyetha Sweeting v. Levon Allen

Sweeting, a former corrections officer, has filed federal suit alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sweeting suffers from “debilitating migraines.” She alleges she was fired because of her disability and that Hill issues a criminal trespass warrant against her when he terminated her. Hill may testify in person in Atlanta next month when the case goes to a jury trial July 11. Sweeting’s attorneys say they might want to bring up Hill’s personal relationship with Allen during the trial.

Vincent Handsford v. Clayton County Sheriff’s Office

Handsford, a former deputy who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2015 and underwent a hip replacement in 2016, is suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to his complaint, originally filed in Clayton County Superior Court, Handsford alleges Hill and CCSO “began to subject him to discriminatory treatment on the basis of his disability, including treating him as though he were crippled [sic]. For example, despite Mr, Handsford’s extensive experience in law enforcement, when he returned to work following his surgery, Defendants reassigned him to Court Services so that he would not ‘hurt himself,’ even though he did not require or seek any type of accommodation for his disability.” Handsford also contends that he was repeatedly passed over for promotions awarded to less-qualified deputies, and that Hill used a pretext to demote him four ranks before terminating him. While Handsford was assigned to listen to certain radio scanners, Hill heard a call on another channel, then blamed Handsford for not hearing it first, allegedly yelling: “You’re lucky I don’t tell you to park my damm car and send your ass home.” Later that day, Hill sent a department-wide memo about the incident, which the complaint alleges was done “for the purpose of singling Mr. Handsford out, threatening and humiliating him.” Hill later busted Handsford down to corrections officer, “a position which was lower than any position that Mr. Handsford had previously held during his law enforcement career,” and for which he had no prior or subsequent training. Handsford also alleges he was retaliated against when he was ordered to turn in his badge and service weapon and removed from security detail assignments that supplemented his regular income. Allegedly, Hill also refused to approve Handsford’s request for a grievance, and refused to reissue his service weapon for POST firearms qualification, which as a result was “suspended after 18 years of active status.” Handsford also allegedly was told to stop wearing his uniform shirt on duty, to place black tape over his nameplate, forced him to work in the lobby in a t-shirt, and exposed him to cold temperatures that aggravated his disability. When Handsford took medical leave, he was reassigned to the jail infirmary even though he was not a corrections officer. Hill later required Handsford to take a polygraph, then a “fitness for duty” test, which he passed, then fired him anyway. When Handsford appealed his termination, he alleges, then-Maj. Chris Storey, who recently ran against Allen for sheriff, told Handsford’s witness, “There is no need for you to be here. Nothing you have to say will make any difference so you can leave.” Storey allegedly turned off the recording device after the hearing, then issued Handsford a criminal trespass warning. Since then, “upon information and belief,” Handsford alleges that “Defendants have continued to retaliate against him by interfering with his ability to obtain new employment.”

The case was administratively closed, then reopened in December 2022. Both sides had requested mediation and more time for additional discovery, which must be completed by June 30. On June 5, the case was renamed Vincent Handsford v. Levon Allen. On June 8, Judge Regina D. Cannon ordered that Hill’s deposition be taken at FCI Forrest City Low.

Brittani Williams v. Levon Allen

Williams, a disabled veteran who was terminated from CCSO under Hill’s watch, was awarded over $202,000 by a jury on May 19. Her complaint described a similar wearing-down process that is described in the Handsford case. On June 8, Allen’s attorneys filed a response to Williams’ request for pretrial interest and reinstatement, arguing that Williams was not entitled to front and back pay, and that her reinstatement is not “viable.”

Stephanie Campbell v. Victor Hill

Campbell, a sheriff services clerk who is a diabetic and who manages her disease with an insulin pump, was reassigned on April 1, 2019 to the night shift at the jail. When she said that could endanger her health because her pump schedule could not be changed, she was reassigned anyway. As a result, Campbell alleges, she was forced to resign 0n May 1, 2019.

Both sides requested a stay when Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Hill as sheriff:

On March 21, both sides filed a joint motion to reopen the case, and to replace Hill’s name with Allen’s as defendant:

On March 31, Judge Christopher C. Bly ordered the case reopened, with discovery to be finished by August 1 and any dispositive motions filed by August 31. Campbell’s attorneys point to civil service rules that require employees be reinstated when they are terminated without cause and submitted as evidence a Clayton County Civil Service Board ruling and Clayton County Superior Court order in the 2019 case of CCSO Chaplain Rodney Williams, as well as the 314-page Clayton County Civil Service Rules and Regulations manual (we’ll upload it to our Docs page, which you can find under “Sunshine” on our homepage menu, for future reference):

Colleen Nicole Pitts and Amanda Carlene Pitts v. Victor Hill

While on patrol at a Checkers on on Tara Boulevard on October 6, 2020, Nicole Pitts, a “gay white female,” Army Reservist, and CCSO deputy, pulled her service weapon on a suspect, Demeriaus Alex Dareus, who was significantly larger than her at 6 feet 5 inches and 250 pounds and who was charged with loitering, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was fired the next day, allegedly on the pretext of use of excessive force. Dareus’ case was dropped on November 6, 2020, according to Clayton County Magistrate Court online filings. Pitts is suing on the bases of race, sex, and sexual orientation, alleging that “she was discharged based on a fabricated and pretextual violation of the CCSO’s Use of Force policy” and that Hill “was negligent in failing to review the video of the incident prior to publishing the false statements.”

Pitts was assigned to the COBRA Unit but had no training for the special high-crimes unit and was assigned to patrol without a partner. Although Pitts is Taser-certified, according to her complaint, Hill would note allow her to carry a Taser. Pitts alleges she was justified in drawing her weapon while waiting for backup because “Plaintiff knew from past experience that the removal of an asp or OC spray from an officer’s duty belt has a tendency to further exacerbate an escalating conflict.”

On October 7, 2020, Hill confiscated Pitts’ badge, saying she had violated CCSO’s use of force policy, placed on administrative leave, then terminated later that day. That evening, Hill posted to Nixle that Pitts had been fired for excessive use of force. Hill’s post claimed that Pitts had pointed her gun under the chin of the handcuffed suspect, which Pitts’ complaint alleges was false information, and published her photo. Several news organizations, including The Clayton Crescent, picked up the Nixle post with Pitts’ photo.

At the time, The Clayton Crescent filed an Open Records Request for information about the arrest, which was fulfilled a month later. Pitts’ separation notice read, “Terminated: Violating Sheriff Office Rules & Regulations 5.03 Use of Force Item 1 5.05 Use of Force Reporting 7.03 Courtesy A 7.06 Conduct Unbecoming an Officer.” The copy of Pitts’ supplemental report released by CCSO does not mention that she had drawn her pistol.

According to CCSO’s Internal Affairs report, “The incident was also witnessed by Deputy Kentavious Gates 28945. Deputy Gates in turn, reported what he saw to his supervisor, Sgt. J[ustin] Parrish #22789.” The report also noted that “Parrish stated Deputy Gates told him that as he approached Deputy Pitts on his motorcycle, he could see her take her weapon out and point it at a subject’s head and the subject was also handcuffed.”

According to the report, “Gates stated that Deputy Pitts was trying to push the male subject into her patrol vehicle but the male subject was resisting. As he got off of his motorcycle, Deputy Gates stated that he saw Deputy Pitts remove her weapon and point it at the suspect. Deputy Gates further stated as Deputy Pitts used her forearm of one arm to push against the subject, she held her weapon in the other hand while pointing her weapon in an upward motion towards the subject’s head. To him, Deputy Gates stated that it appeared as though Deputy Pitts was using her weapon to get the subject to do what she was telling
him to do. Deputy Gates stated he rushed over to Deputy Pitts and started pushing her weapon away from the subject, while also trying to defuse the situation by talking to the subject. Deputy Gates advised the subject was very upset and was saying something about Deputy Pitts going into his pockets. Deputy Gates stated the subject continued yelling but after he talked to him, the subject seemed to calm down. After the subject was calm enough, Deputy Gates advised he told the subject that if he felt like the officer had done something wrong, that he could take it up in court. He also advised he told the subject that black men are being killed every day and that he has to try and remain calm….I asked Deputy Gates if he thought the use of force which he observed Deputy Pitts do, when he stated she held her weapon and pointed it at the subject was justified and he stated it wasn’t. Deputy Gates stated that the experience of having seen Deputy Pitts point her weapon at a handcuffed subject, was very emotional for him and caused him a lot of mental distress.”

Internal Affairs’ interview with Pitts did not mention when whe pulled her service weapon but did mote when she holstered it: “Deputy Pitts went on to say that Deputy Vives and Deputy Gates got to her. She advised that Deputy Gates stepped between her and Demeriaus Dareus and started talking to him but she doesn’t know what he said. Deputy Pitts stated that she holstered her weapon back up while Deputy Vives and Deputy Gates pulled Demeriaus Dareus into her patrol car. Even though he was handcuffed, Deputy Pitts stated she was afraid because all Demeriaus Dareus had to do was push her back and her head would hit cement and knock her out and no other units were around. Deputy Pitts was asked if she could see that Demeriaus Dareus was about 6 ft 5 and weighed 250 lbs when she pulled up on scene, did it occur to her to call for help before she had to engage him. Deputy Pitts stated she doesn’t like to assume the worst in anyone and she tries not to think that every large man is going to kill her.”

She added that “most of the people she’s dealt with in the same parking lot are told to leave and they go but Demariaus Dareus was new and she had never dealt with him before. She further stated that she has seen drug activity in the parking lot before.”

Dareus variously told IA that Pitts had pointed a gun at his face, according to his written statement, then that she had pointed it at his temple, gesturing to the investigator during an interview. The final report concluded that Pitts allegedly had pointed her pistol under Dareus’ chin.

According to the complaint, “A review of Defendant Victor Hill’s social media posts on 27 September 2020, 7 October 2020, and 16 October 2020, will reveal that of twenty-two (22) officers terminated from his department during that period, only the white officers’ photos were posted and there was no post or other mention of the [Black] officer terminated for the 21 June 2020 alleged battery against an inmate.”

In addition, “There is no record of any other officer terminations by the Sheriff for merely drawing their firearm and there is no CCSO policy which prohibits an officer from drawing their firearm under the circumstances that existed in this case.”

According to Pitts’ complaint, “Defendant maintained an employment policy, practice, and selection criteria such that gay and female employees received disparate and discriminatory treatment compared to their straight male counterparts by terminating Plaintiff for conduct which non-gay and non-female employees are not terminated.”

Goodwine v. Hill et al.

In September 2020, Charles Goodwine was arrested for DUI while on 24 months’ probation for a December 2018 DUI offense. In October 2020, Judge Margaret Spencer “entered an order revoking two months ten days of Defendant’s probation with credit dating back to the date of his arrest, after which time he would be released and his case would be closed. ” Goodwine says that meant he should have gotten out of the Clayton County Jail about December 3, 2020, but not later than December 14 when his probation ended. Instead, Goodwine alleges, he was held unlawfully until January 6, 2021. He “complained to these named defendants about the illegality of his detention and these defendants were deliberately indifferent to same.”

Goodwine alleges his Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unlawful search and seizure was violated, that the jail shows a pattern of abuse that rises to the level of departmental policy, and that he has “suffered serious injury and damage for which Defendants are liable including, but not limited to: physical injury; medical expenses; physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering; humiliation; embarrassment; and distress, which injuries are permanent and continuing.” Goodwine has demanded a jury trial.

On Monday, June 12, Goodwine’s attorneys filed a motion to show cause and, in the alternative, motion for extension of time to effect service, stating that defense attorneys Ali Sabzaverui and Jack Hancock, who “routinely” represent Hill and/or CCSO, had not gotten back with them about waiver of service and for whom they could or could not accept service in the case.

“After nearly three months of relying on Sabzevari and/or Hancock to waive
service for some or all defendants, or to timely advise what they could or could not
do,” the motion reads, “Counsel hired process servers on June 5, 2023. As of the date of this filing, the following defendants have been served with process: Victor Hill, Roland Boehrer, Terrance Gibson, Levon Allen, Antonia Fitzpatrick (A.D.F.), Corey Smart, Marcella
Woods (M. M. Woods), and Jennifer Ley (J.L.L).” Based on discussions with the process server, “counsel expects to have many if not all of the remaining defendants served in the near future. For example, in the case of Derek Doyle, he now works for the City of Jonesboro Police Department and will be in on Wednesday, June 14, at which time service will be attempted again. Likewise, Courtland Broussard is expected to be on duty tonight, June 12, at the Clayton County Jail and counsel expects to be able to serve him quickly. As for the remaining defendants, counsel continues to endeavor to serve them (specifically, but
not limited to, Green, Smith, Brown, Johnson, Gray) and may need additional time
to do so.”

Hamilton v. Hill et al.

Charles Hamilton was booked into the Clayton County Jail on or about Christmas Day, 2020. (A check of Clayton County’s online criminal court docket showed no case from around that date.) While awaiting trial, Hamilton alleges, he “was attacked by another inmate and was left with serious injuries to his face, ears, eyes, brain, and head.” When he asked for medical attention, Hamilton alleges in his complaint, Hill, jail staff, and CorrectHealth employees were “indifferent” to his requests. Hamilton also wrote to Hill “via certified mail (and same was signed for) on or about March 15, 2021, complaining of his son’s medical needs and the lack of attention that he received. He received no response and Plaintiff’s needs continued unmet.”

CorrectHealth eventually treated Hamilton, but the complaint alleges that, due to “delayed and deficient medical treatment, Plaintiff suffers and will continue to suffer debilitating facial and cranial pain, loss of vision, blurred vision, memory and mood issues, headaches, post-concussive injury, aphasia, astigmatism, and other related injuries.”

The case, filed on April 10, alleges CCSO violated Hamilton’s Fourteenth Amendment rights, and that CorrectHealth was negligent under Georgia law by breaching their duty of care. Hamilton is also seeking a jury trial:

Named in the suit are Hill, Allen, Boehrer, Terrance Gibson, K. Crews, Elizabeth Smith, Correct Health LLC, Correct Health Clayton, LLC, Dr, Charles Clopton, Tiffanie Mitchell, Deborah Pilgrim, Mamie Miller, Joan Tapper, Teresa Nicholson, John Sims, Ramonica Jordan, and Shena Carter.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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