Two new lawsuits filed against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill

Two new lawsuits accused Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill of violating the civil rights on jail detainees.

Two new lawsuits accused Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill of violating the civil rights on jail detainees.

Two new lawsuits have been filed against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and his jail staff over the use of restraining chairs, with detainees claiming they urinated on themselves after being confined to the devices for hours.

Melvin McDay and Timothy O’Neil said in separate federal lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Friday that the chairs were allegedly used as punishment after their arrests.

O’Neil said his confinement was ordered by Hill, after the controversial sheriff shut down I-75 in October 2019 because of a police standoff with O’Neil.

“Do you know who I am? I had to shut down 75 for you,” Hill allegedly said to O’Neil as the detainee waited in the jail’s mental health unit, where he was being held. “Take him down and strap him to the chair.”

The U.S. Justice Department in April indicted Hill on four counts of violating the civil rights of Clayton County Jail detainees in the use of restraining chairs. A fifth count was added in August. Hill has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Hill from duty in June.

The new litigation adds to a stream of lawsuits against Hill and the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office that have been filed over the past several months.

In his lawsuit against Hill and the sheriff’s office, O’Neil claims he was strapped to the restraining chair for five hours and urinated on himself when no one would allow him to go to the restroom.

He was held in the mental health unit for more than two weeks and allegedly was not provided toiletries, was forced to sleep on the floor with no bedding or pillow and had to tear pieces off his jail-issued paper gown to use as toilet paper, the lawsuit says.

“I want you to get comfortable in here,” O’Neil said Hill told him during a second visit. “You’re going to be in here for a while.”

For food, O’Neil said he was given “nutraloaf,” a meatloaf mixture that critics say is often used as punishment in jails and has been banned in at least three states.

In his lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, McDay said he was arrested for jaywalking in December 2020. After being transported to the jail, he was allegedly beaten by five jailers, who tased him, broke his jaw and strapped him in a restraint chair for hours, during which time he urinated on himself.

He was later taken to “the hole,” where he remained for three days, the lawsuit says. While there, he pleaded with jail staff for medical assistance because of his broken jaw, but never received help, according to the suit. He was released after four days and sought medical treatment at an area hospital, where doctors surgically repaired his jaw, McDay claims in the litigation.

Hill was not directly implicated in the alleged beating of McDay but is named in the litigation in his capacity as sheriff overseeing jail operations.