Sheriff accused of shooting woman in Atlanta suburb
Lawrenceville, Ga. — An Atlanta-area sheriff who was acquitted three years ago in a major public corruption case is now accused of shooting a woman in a subdivision near the suburb of Lawrenceville.
The woman was found shot in the abdomen Sunday evening, Gwinnett County police said. She was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in critical condition, authorities said.
The shooter was identified as Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, Gwinnett County police said in a statement. He refused to speak with investigators at the scene and was released with no charges, police said.
“He refuses to give any statements,” Gwinnett County police Sgt. Brian Doan told reporters late Sunday.
The shooting was “reported as accidental,” police said late Sunday in a statement, which did not elaborate on who characterized it that way.
In 2012, Hill was elected sheriff despite being under indictment on felony corruption charges. A jury the following year acquitted him of the 27 felony charges, including theft and giving false statements.
The jury’s acquittal cleared the way for Hill to continue as sheriff in the county south of Atlanta. The charges had stemmed from Hill’s previous term as Clayton County’s sheriff, from 2005 to 2008. The indictment accused Hill of using his office for personal gain. Special Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon said during the trial that Hill used his county car for trips that he paid for, in part, by using a government credit card.
But Hill’s attorneys argued that the charges were politically motivated. Hill has drawn controversy since the day he first took office in 2005, when he fired 27 deputies. A judge later ordered that the deputies be reinstated.
Two lawyers who represented Hill during his trial on the criminal charges didn’t immediately respond to phone messages and emails from The Associated Press early Monday.
Late Sunday, Gwinnett police said investigators have been consulting with the District Attorney’s Office and no charges have been filed in the ongoing investigation. Possible charges against Hill would proceed differently since he’s a sheriff, police said.
“When you’re an active sheriff in the state of Georgia, there are certain legal requirements and steps that have to be taken,” Doan told reporters at the scene. “It’s not just an average citizen where you can take out a warrant for their arrest.”
The home where police say the shooting occurred is a $329,990 model home for sale in the Park Haven neighborhood, Paran Homes advertises on its website. Paran Homes representatives didn’t immediately return a phone message left early Monday.
Earlier this year, another high-ranking law enforcement official shot his wife as she slept. Then Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom called 911 early New Year’s Day to report accidentally shooting his ex-wife, Margaret, as they slept in their suburban Atlanta home. The shooting left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist.
McCollom resigned from his post in March. He was indicted on a misdemeanor reckless conduct charge in April. Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said investigators found no evidence McCollom intended to harm Margaret McCollom. However, Ballard said he concluded the shooting could have been prevented.