Remember the super-friendly female deputy in Camden County, Georgia, caught on her dash cam attacking a woman at a traffic stop? Well, it’s time for an update. Even after this incident, she was named “Deputy of the Month.” But then she was fired and indicted by a grand jury. But that’s not all the problems currently being faced by the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.
Video footage has just been released showing misconduct by a notorious former sheriff in Clayton County, Georgia. That footage resulted in his conviction for federal civil rights violations, for which he is about to face sentencing. In other words, here’s yet another rare, but great, example of law enforcement being held accountable for civil rights violations in the best possible way – criminal prosecution.
Victor Hill, the former sheriff of Clayton County, Georgia, was charged with seven counts of willfully depriving detainees at the Clayton County Jail of their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force by law enforcement officers. Specifically, the grand jury who indicted him alleged that Hill caused the seven victims to be strapped into restraint chairs at the jail without any legitimate nonpunitive governmental purpose and for a period exceeding that justified by any legitimate nonpunitive governmental purpose. The grand jury further alleged that these offenses caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury to the victims.
The trial is already over. On October 26, 2022, a jury convicted Hill on six of the seven counts. As to each of those six guilty counts, the jury further found that the offense caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury to 6 different victims.
The reason you’re seeing this now is because some of that footage was just released. The released footage shows the restraint of Robert Arnold, who was booked into the jail on February 25, 2020. He was accused of assaulting two women inside a Forest Park grocery store earlier that month.
“What was you doing in Clayton County that day?” Sheriff Hill asked Arnold.
“It’s a democracy, sir. It’s the United States,” Arnold replied.
“No, it’s not. Not in my county,” responded Sheriff Hill.
When Arnold challenged Sheriff Hill on his right “to a fair and speedy trial,” Hill told sheriff’s office employees to bring him a restraint chair.
“Roll that chair ’round here,” ordered Sheriff Hill. “Roll that chair ’round here.”
According to a 2018 policy approved by Hill, restraint chairs “may be used by security staff to provide safe containment of an inmate exhibiting violent or uncontrollable behavior and to prevent self-injury, injury to others or property damage when other control techniques are not effective.”
Prosecutors also introduced surveillance videos from inside the jail that showed Sheriff Hill’s interactions with Glenn Howell on April 27, 2020. Howell, a landscaper, had a dispute with a Clayton County Sheriff’s Office deputy about payment for work that Howell did on the deputy’s property. Sheriff Hill called Howell to try to intervene and the conversation became heated. When Howell tried to contact Hill again, Hill obtained a warrant for Howell’s arrest on a charge of harassing communications. Howell turned himself in a few days later.
In the surveillance video, Howell is pictured sitting on a bench for several minutes. He appears to follow commands as an intake officer searches him and processes his belongings. At one point, prosecutors pointed out, jail staff left Howell alone in the intake area—something attorneys argued they would not have done if Howell was a threat. Footage shows Sheriff Hill arriving about an hour later and speaking to Howell in the hallway. Less than a minute into the conversation, Howell is placed into a waiting restraint chair.
The sheriff’s office restraint chair policy explains that officers should remove someone from the device “when they have determined that there is no longer a threat to self or others, or the inmate must be transported to another facility.” Multiple witnesses, however, testified that when Sheriff Hill ordered someone into a restraint chair, it was understood that person was not to be released for four hours, the maximum allowed under the policy.
Today we filed a lawsuit against multiple West Virginia parole officers for a pattern and practice of sexual abuse of female parolees in the Parkersburg, West Virginia area. Imagine being a woman in the parole system, where your male parole officer, who has the ability to search your house, arrest you, or send you to prison at any time, begins to demand sexual favors. That’s what’s been happening in West Virginia. Imagine also that you report this to your parole officer’s supervisor and he intimidates you into silence and allows it to continue. Imagine even the FBI comes in and has to tell a Parole Officer to back off, that he’s under surveillance, and meanwhile, the guy’s still employed as a Parole Officer, as if it’s just par for the course.
My client, identified in the lawsuit by her initials, tragically, was already victimized in the West Virginia correctional system. She was therefore vulnerable to these predators. When her parole officer began to engage in misconduct, she bravely recorded him. Six recordings she created. She took those recordings to the supervising Parole Officer in the region, David Jones. Instead of protecting her and other female parolees from the predator, he ordered her to destroy the evidence, telling her that the predator, Anthony DeMetro, was his friend. He told her to just stick it out until she was off parole. Meanwhile, other women were victimized, and my client was forced to live in fear and humiliation.
According to the other lawsuit that was filed, which I’ve also posted, other female victims were coming forward to state parole officials, only to be ignored – which is absolutely unacceptable. Thankfully, the FBI was listening and began an investigation. Now the feds have indicted Anthony DeMetro. His indictment is posted in full below. They also filed a criminal information charge against DeMetro’s supervisor, David Jones. I’ve posted that as well.
On July 8, following a 3 week trial, a federal jury convicted three former state-level correctional officers in Hawaii of felony civil rights violations for the physical assault of an inmate under their custody, as well as of charges relate to the subsequent coverup. After the trial, the federal judge immediately ordered the U.S. Marshalls to take the men into custody pending their sentencing hearings. I have the surveillance footage, and it’s pretty bad. I also obtained some of the criminal case documents, including the indictment, jury instructions and jury verdict form, which you can view and download below.
The evidence at trial established that the defendants assaulted the inmate in the prison’s recreation yard. Over the course of two minutes, the defendants attacked the inmate in the head and body while he was lying face-down on the ground. The inmate suffered a broken nose, jaw and eye socket. After the incident, there was a cover up. The officers wrote false reports in which they omitted almost all of the force they had used. When the prison opened an investigation, the defendants met to get their stories straight and brainstorm false excuses they would give for having used force. Ultimately, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety fired all four officers. A fourth officer was convicted prior to trial and testified against the other three.
The indictment alleged two counts for Deprivation of Rights under Color of law, one count of Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, and three counts of Obstruction by False Report. the indictment also alleged that one of the men, Defendant Taum, obtained a copy of the surveillance video of the assault on the inmate, and met with the other involved officers at the home of one of the officers, and together devised a false cover story that would purport to explain and justify their assault of the inmate. The officers apparently received internal affairs questionnaires, and worked together to apply their false cover story to the questionnaire’s specific questions.
In the use of force report, the officers wrote that they used “brachial stuns and brachial plexus strikes to gain compliance so the inmate could be restrained.” They further wrote that, “reactive use of force was used to gain control and compliance.” However, the indictment alleges that those reports were false because in reality, the officers did not perform “brachial stuns and brachial plexus tie in strikes,” which are techniques taught in their training, but rather kicked and kneed the inmate, punched him in the face, and used hammer-fist strikes to the back of his head, doing so not to “gain control/compliance” as the inmate had already been subdued.
The litigation paperwork filed in the case indicates that there were actually allegations of this inmate being physically assaulted by the officers at two separate times and in two different locations at this jail, hence the two separate counts for Deprivations of Rights, i.e., excessive force. The video only shows the first assault. The second one apparently happening in the holding cell afterwards. Just the fact that they weren’t done with the guy after what we saw in the video . . . is insane.
On the excessive force counts, the jury was instructed that the government had to prove that the defendant correctional officers deprived the inmate of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. That means that the inmate was a convicted prisoner. The constitutional right to be free from excessive force falls under different amendments, depending on the logistical status of the victim. For an arrestee, or someone just on the street, it’s the Fourth Amendment. For a pretrial detainee, the courts use the Fourteenth Amendment, which is a slightly more lenient standard for the government. Lastly, for convicted prisoners, they’re stuck with the Eighth Amendment, which is cruel and unusual punishment.
Here’s how cruel and unusual punishment was defined for the jury: Under the Eighth Amendment, a convicted prisoner has the right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishments.” To establish a defendant deprived the prisoner of his Eighth Amendment right, the government must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt.
1. a defendant used excessive and unnecessary force under all of the circumstances;
2. a defendant acted maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing harm, and not in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline; and
3. the act or acts of a defendant caused harm to the prisoner.
The Court asked the jurors to consider the following:
1. the extent of the injury suffered;
2. the need to use force;
3. the relationship between the need to use force and the amount of force used;
4. any threat reasonably perceived by a defendant; and
5. any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response, such as, if feasible, providing a prior warning or giving an order to comply.
The Court also instructed the jury that, “Correctional officers have a duty to intercede when another correctional officer violates the constitutional rights of a prisoner. A correctional officer who observed another correctional officer using cruel and unusual punishment, had a reasonable opportunity to intervene, and chose not to do so would be responsible for depriving the prisoner of his Eighth Amendment constitutional rights.
This is known as the duty to intervene, or bystander liability, in civil cases. This also applies to police officers in regular Fourth Amendment excessive force cases.
A sentencing date has not been set. The guards each could face up to 20 years in prison for filing a false report alone, as well as 10 years in prison for the deprivation of rights conviction and five years for the conspiracy conviction.
ETA: here are the documents discussed in the video: