ATLANTA (AP) — A prosecutor says he has fundamental questions about a Georgia sheriff’s account of conducting “police training exercises” when he accidentally shot a female real estate agent inside a model home for sale in a subdivision well outside his jurisdiction.
But so far, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter says he’s getting no help finding answers from Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.
Gwenevere McCord, 43, remains physically unable to tell investigators what happened and Hill still refuses to do so, Porter said Wednesday. McCord, who is a friend of Hill, was shot in the abdomen and critically wounded in the shooting on Sunday near Lawrenceville in Atlanta’s northeastern suburbs.
She and Hill were alone in the house at the time, officials have said. The shooting scene is about 50 miles northeast of Jonesboro, where Hill’s office is located.
Hill left the scene without giving an official statement to investigators and has not been arrested.
What investigators found inside the model home raises questions about the sheriff’s explanation in his 911 call, Porter said.
“The statement on the 911 tape was that they were doing police training exercises,” Porter said.
The placement of some items at the scene, he said, “sort of make you think about that – I want to look at that,” he added.
Police have not released the 911 call, and Porter said he couldn’t go into specifics about the evidence found at the scene. But the police training scenario is fueling questions in his mind, Porter said.
“You have to ask yourself about police training exercises anyway,” he said. “If you assume that to be true, are there things at the scene that are consistent with that happening? And that’s where my questions arise.”
But Porter said he was told by Hill’s lawyer that the sheriff would not be speaking with investigators.
“It would certainly assist the investigation if we had his side of the facts, but that’s his choice to make,” Porter said. “I can’t force him to.”
Lawyer Drew Findling, who has represented Hill previously, didn’t immediately return a phone message from the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Hill did give his cellphone to investigators at the scene. “He provided the password to it so we didn’t have to break it to get into it,” Porter said.
Hill also turned over his clothing and both guns he had at the time, Porter said.
Clayton County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Shon Hill, who arrived at the model home at some point after the shooting but did not witness it, is willing to be interviewed, the district attorney said. “He indicated to me yesterday afternoon that he’s willing to talk to us about what happened,” Porter said. He said Shon Hill is not related to Victor Hill.
Victor Hill’s time as sheriff in the county south of Atlanta has been filled with controversy, dating to his first day in office a decade ago when he fired more than two dozen deputies. He has put forth a tough-on-crime message in his campaigns, and used a military tank on drug raids.
He was voted out of office in 2008, but won it back again in 2012 despite facing more than two dozen criminal charges in a corruption case. A jury later acquitted him of all 27 charges, including theft and giving false statements. That cleared the way for Hill to continue as sheriff.
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