Sheriff pleads no contest in shooting he called an accident

August 30, 2016 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta-area sheriff who says he accidentally shot and injured a woman while they were practicing police tactics inside an empty model home pleaded no contest to a reckless-conduct charge Tuesday.

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill entered the plea under the state’s first-offender statute and was ordered to serve 12 months on probation and pay a $1,000 fine, according to a news release from the Gwinnett County district attorney’s office.

Hill had acknowledged shooting Gwenevere McCord in an empty model home in Lawrenceville on May 3, 2015. Hill told a 911 operator the shooting was an accident that happened while they were practicing police tactics.

A Gwinnett County grand jury in November indicted Hill on the misdemeanor reckless-conduct charge.

McCord, who has fully recovered from her injuries, was cooperative but said she didn’t want Hill prosecuted for an accident, prosecutors said.

Hill has been free on bond and has continued to do his job as sheriff.

Hill and McCord were alone in the home when the shooting happened. Hill called 911 immediately after the shooting, but refused to make any statements to investigators at the scene.

A list of items taken from the home by investigators included a “gun, badge and knives from front porch,” a .22-caliber handgun, a .40-caliber handgun, a training gun, a bloody shirt, a shell casing, a glass jar, blood swabs and a backpack with books and an iPad in it.

McCord told investigators several weeks after the shooting that Hill would never intentionally harm her and also said the two were practicing police tactics. McCord’s father, Ernest McCord, said at the time that his daughter was a real estate agent and wanted to learn self-defense since she was frequently alone in model homes.

Hill has been a magnet for controversy since the beginning of his time as sheriff in the county south of Atlanta.

He fired 27 deputies on his first day in office about a decade ago and used a tank owned by the agency during drug raids as part of a tough-on-crime stance adopted in his first term.

He failed to win re-election in 2008, but voters returned him to office in 2012 despite the fact that he faced more than two dozen criminal charges in a corruption case. A jury later acquitted him of all 27 charges, including theft and making false statements. That cleared the way for Hill to continue as sheriff.