Some folks probably shouldn’t carry guns – even trained law enforcement officers like Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill,who is under investigation after saying he accidentally shot his friend, Gwenevere McCord, during a tactical training exercise inside an empty model home.
A Georgia grand jury will now hear the case against Hill, who was charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, even though the shooting was initially classified as accidental.
But here are some initial questions: Why was McCord, who is not a police officer, involved in a cop’s training exercise? Why was the tactical session set up in an empty model home 50 miles from Hill’s office, which is well outside his jurisdiction? And why were Hill and McCord the only two people attending the exercise?
A county prosecutor has decided that a grand jury should hear evidence in the case since it does raise questions about the circumstances that lead to Hill shooting McCord. The grand jury could also consider upgrading the charges to aggravated assault, which is a felony, when it meets in September.
The shooting happened on May 3 when Hill shot McCord, 43, after Hill, 50, said he was “practicing police tactics.” McCord, a real estate agent, was in a model home alone with Hill when Hill shot her in her in stomach. No other law enforcement personnel were present.
Hill is something of a local celebrity: He calls himself the “Crime Fighter” and displays a 3-foot-high statue of Batman in his office.
Right after Hill took over as Clayton County Sheriff, he fired 27 deputies, then reportedly assigned snipers to the roof of the jail in case the disgruntled deputies returned to take revenge against him.
In 2013, after Hill started his second term as Sheriff, he was acquitted of racketeering charges related to the use of his county-issued credit card, according to media reports.
But for Hill, practicing ‘police tactics’ is a dangerous exercise. McCord’s father said the bullet tore through his daughter’s spleen, damaged one of her kidneys and also destroyed part of her large intestine. He called it “a freak accident.”
The shooting comes as America is embroiled in a heated debate over gun control and whether residents, hunters, and even law enforcers are taking proper precautions when handling weapons.
So far this year, there have been 1,093 accidental shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive, a national organization that tracks gun-related incidents. Add Hill to that total.