Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill named in another restraint chair lawsuit

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was named in a new federal lawsuit alleging the jail he oversaw for years violated the civil rights of a detainee by confining him to a restraining chair.

Combined ShapeCaption
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was named in a new federal lawsuit alleging the jail he oversaw for years violated the civil rights of a detainee by confining him to a restraining chair.

A new lawsuit filed Monday against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill alleges the jail he oversaw for years violated the civil rights of a detainee through violence and the use of a restraining chair.

Jyqwavous Whitaker says in the litigation filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta that Clayton County Jail deputy Raymon Sherod Winn allegedly choked him, knocked him to the floor and pummeled his face during an encounter in September 2019. He was then allegedly confined to a restraining chair for at least four hours.

Whitaker had been arrested a month earlier on charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and reckless driving and was awaiting trial in the jail when the incident happened, the lawsuit said.

“At no time prior to the assault by Defendant Winn did Plaintiff defy or disobey any command given to him by Defendant Winn and at no time did he pose a threat to the safety of Deputy Winn or other officers,” the lawsuit said.

The suit names Hill, who is not directly tied to the alleged assault against Whitaker, in his capacity as sheriff. It is the latest in a string of recent accusations — both civil and criminal — against the lawman regarding the use of restraint chairs.

Federal authorities in April indicted Hill on four counts of violating the civil rights of detainees in using the chairs, including on a juvenile. Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Hill from duty in June.

In August federal officials added a fifth charge against Hill for the alleged chair use. Hill has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Hill’s attorney Drew Findling did not return calls for comment.

Wayne Kendall, who represents Whitaker, called on the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department to take over the Clayton County Jail.

“The rash of excessive force cases recently arising at the Clayton County jail indicates a need for an in-depth investigation into the operations of that facility and a wholesale removal of the present administration, which not only includes a sheriff under criminal indictment but other senior staffers under similar indictment,” he said.

Whitaker’s litigation comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed in late August on behalf of Gabriel Arries, who alleges he also was confined to a restraint chair for four hours after being severely beaten by sheriff’s office deputies at the jail earlier this year.

In the Whitaker lawsuit, the complainant said that after being choked and pummeled, he “lost consciousness and sustained serious bruises, contusions and other injuries including having to have the braces on his teeth cut out of his lips from which they were imbedded due to the blows to his face.”

The suit also accused Deputy Winn of a history of violence, including a 2012 charge by Atlanta Police of battery with physical harm and an arrest in Clayton County in 2021 on a charge of cruelty to children.

After being put in the restraining chair, the lawsuit alleged that Sheriff Hill ordered Whitaker be given “nutraloaf” for three days. “Nutraloaf” is a meatloaf mixture that critics say is often used as punishment in jails and has been banned in at least three states.

The ingredients of “nutraloaf” vary from state to state, but often begins with ground beef and then is mixed into a loaf with a variety of foods, including beans, vegetables, unskinned potatoes, dry grits and oatmeal.