July 6, 2020

Third Lawsuit Filed Against Clayton County Sheriff's Office, Victor Hill

By Heather Middleton | Clayton News-Daily | July 6, 2020

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JONESBORO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Southern Center for Human Rights and the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and members of the CCSO staff.

The suit was filed on behalf of four jail inmates: Rhonda Jones, Randolph Mitchell, Michael Singleton and Barry Watkins. The class action complaint alleges the Clayton County jail is understaffed, unsanitary and is failing to respond “reasonably to the known risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Clayton County jail.”

The complaint goes on to state the jail’s cells are overcrowded and that jail employees have not provided protective equipment, basic sanitation and personal hygiene or allowing for social distancing. Furthermore, CCSO employees are alleged to have failed to implement a “reasonable process for identifying, testing and isolating COVID-19 infection,” educating detainees about the disease and identifying medically vulnerable and disabled people and protecting them.

In addition to Hill, Chief Deputy Roland Boehrer, Jail Administrator Terrance Gibson, Jail Security Operations Section Commander Kevin Thomas and Jail Security Operations Section Commander Maurice Johnson have been named defendants in the suit.

In a statement issued via the CCSO Nixle, Alan Parker said “there is no outbreak of COVID-19 in our facility.” Parker is serving as the legal advisor for the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.

He states he has reviewed the allegations of the lawsuit “and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit in a court of law, not in the press.”

He added that the media “has falsely exaggerated the facts to suit their story.”

The lawsuit requests the CCSO to release or transfer all medically vulnerable or disability subclass members to home confinement or other safe location and reasonably mitigate the conditions in the jail that “facilitate the spread of COVID-19, including by implementing social distancing measures, providing personal protecting equipment and releasing certain detainees”

Additionally, the suit is asking the defendants to provide safe and sanitary conditions of confinement to plaintiffs and other class members, with “heightened protections for detainees who are susceptible to serious and/or fatal COVID-19 infections.”

Plaintiffs are also requesting attorney’s fees, expenses and cost of litigation.

This is the third federal lawsuit filed against Hill and the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.

In late June, Butts County businessman Glenn Howell filed suit alleging excessive force in violation of the 14th Amendment’s due process clause and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In early June, the Southern Center for Human Rights and the ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit under the Georgia Open Records Act against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.

The lawsuit alleges that Hill violated the Georgia Open Records Act by declining to provide public documents showing, among other things: (1) the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Clayton County Jail, and (2) the number of people who have been tested for the virus.