Learn more about Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill in the AJC's "5 things to know" series.
Photo: Mandi Albright/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Mandi Albright/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wife of Clayton sheriff-hopeful free after Victor Hill-ordered arrest

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill on Friday said he ordered the arrest of a political opponents’ wife because she wrote him harassing emails.

Gerrian Hawes was released on a $1,500 bond from Clayton County Jail  on Thursday and livestreamed a video on Facebook calling Hill the harasser. She said she expects to have more run-ins with the controversial law enforcement leader because of her husband’s plan to run for sheriff in 2020. Robert Hawes, a former Clayton deputy, announced his candidacy earlier this month.

“This sheriff is extraordinarily petty,” Gerrian Hawes said in the livestream. “I may be in and out of jail. But I was built for this.”

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill is being accused by Gerrian Hawes, whom he had arrested Wednesday, of using his office to punish her husband for planning to run against him in 2020. (AJC FILE PHOTO)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday, Hill attempted to set the record straight about the arrest.

He says that one of Hawes’ son and some of his friends stole two department weapons from Robert Hawes. After admitting that he lied about the whereabouts of the firearms during an internal investigation, Robert Hawes resigned in early December instead of being terminatedthe sheriff said.

That month, Gerrian Hawes began emailing Hill about her husband’s departure, and the sheriff said he asked her to refrain from further communications.

The investigation into the missing weapons continued, and no arrests have been made. But the sheriff said he was set to issue a warrant for Hawes’ son last month. Then, he said, a lieutenant in his department tipped Robert Hawes about the pending arrest. That lieutenant was fired, Hill said.

On Aug. 9, the sheriff sent an email to department employees explaining why the employee had been dismissed. Hill said the email also explained his suspicions about Robert Hawes’ son.

The next day, Robert Hawes announced his candidacy for sheriff, and Gerrian Hawes sent an email to the sheriff that said, “Where there is love, fear cannot exist.”

Hill responded, “Mrs. Hawes, unless you are contacting me to return the sheriff’s office stolen guns, please refrain from emailing me. Thank you in advance.”

Former Clayton Sheriff’s Office lieutenant deputy Robert Hawes talks to the press Thursday outside the Clayton County Courthouse. Gerrian Hawes, his wife, was arrested Wednesday by Clayton Sheriff’s deputies over emails to the sheriff’s office related to her husband’s planned run against Sheriff Victor Hill in 2020. Photo: LEON STAFFORD/AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

That exchange led to a back and forth between Gerrian Hawes and Hill throughout the day of Aug. 10. Hill said he instructed her not to contact him or risk being arrested. But, he said, Gerrian Hawes continued.

“It is important that we disclose the facts of what got us to this point so that when any further action occurs, the false antics in the media by this family can be laid to rest,” Hill said in Friday’s release.

Robert Hawes said Hill is telling an incomplete version of the story.

“I bet you if we did an open records request of the emails that came from the sheriff, there would be some nasty threats from him,” he said. “The only reason he is doing what he is doing is because I said I was running for sheriff.”

What upsets him most is that his wife has been caught up in the battle.

“It bothers me that back and forth is going on about my wife,” he said. “The emails my wife sent were pleasant. He’s a public official in the county, and she is a constituent.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.