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Excessive force suit against Gwinnett sheriff's office could get jury trial

A federal lawsuit against the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office could go to a jury trail. The lawsuit alleges deputies used excessive force and misused "restraint chairs" on potentially hundreds of inmates.

The case was essentially dismissed earlier this year, but an appellate court judge recently ruled the case can proceed. The defendants, including longtime Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and other jail officials, can appeal this decision.

The four inmates in the suit have accused the jail of excessive force by the "rapid response team," which is a group of jail officials sent in to stop inmates who are acting out. The lawsuit also alleges misuse of chairs designed to hold an inmate's legs, arms, chest and head in place.

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An attorney for the inmates, Craig Jones of the Orlando Firm in Decatur, said he hopes the outcome of the lawsuit is a standard set of procedures for when and how to restrain inmates who are acting out, as well as compensation for those hurt during the use of the chairs.

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"The case is definitely moving forward," Jones said.

If this appeal is not challenged, it could take a few months before the case moves to trial, Jones said.

Deputy Shannon Volkodav, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said 

Wednesday the office cannot comment on pending litigation.

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