Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and deputies facing new restraint chair abuse allegation

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has been named in a new lawsuit alleging a Los Angeles man was beaten severely and put in a restraining chair for approximately four hours while in custody earlier this year at the Clayton County Jail.

Gabriel Arries alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta that Clayton County deputies “repeatedly, maliciously, and violently struck” him in the shower area of the jail and then placed in a restraining chair outside the infirmary. The lawsuit says Arries was left with brain damage and other significant injuries.

Arries, who is Bi-Polar and suffers from mood disorder, had been arrested Feb. 5 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was “allegedly combative and shouting racial epithets to the Sheriff’s deputies,” according to the lawsuit.

Along with nine deputies, the lawsuit alleges Hill violated Arries’ civil rights in his capacity as sheriff. It does not allege that the sheriff participated in the beating. Rather, the lawsuit said that because the sheriff would not seriously investigate alleged abuse of detainees, deputies were likely “to use excessive or unreasonable force against detainees.”

“Defendant Hill was grossly negligent in his supervision of [his employees] and was deliberately indifferent to the rights of others, and has exhibited a pattern, policy and custom of violating the rights of [inmates],” the lawsuit said.

Attorneys for Hill and Arries did not return messages requesting comment.

The lawsuit comes as Hill is under federal indictment for use of restraint chairs at the jail. He was charged in April with violating the civil rights of four detainees, including a juvenile. A fifth charge was introduced in a superseding indictment in early August.

Hill has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, but has been suspended from his duties by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The embattled lawman and the Clayton County Jail he ran with an iron-fist is also subject of at least six pending lawsuits and close to a dozen individual allegations of abuse.

In the new litigation, Arries said he was tased and placed in a cell with a detainee who participated in gang activities that resulted in an altercation. Arries was later moved to a medical holding cell “with open wounds on his face while covered in feces.”

He was transported to Atlanta Medical Center after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the jail, according to the court filing.

Medical staff at the hospital said he had suffered a severe brain injury, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage and closed fracture of nasal bone because of the alleged beating by deputies, the lawsuit said.

“Defendant Hill has had a persistent and widespread practice of condoning, ratifying, and authorizing deputies, including [the defendants] ... to use excessive force,” the lawsuit says. “Further, Defendant Hill was aware of, and deliberately indifferent to, this widespread and systemic corruption within the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department.

“Moreover, after beating Gabriel for his behavior, defendants left him for dead without adequate medical care to address the brain injury they inflicted,” the lawsuit alleged.