By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia sheriff who said he shot a friend while "practicing police tactics" could face upgraded felony charges after prosecutors decided on Thursday to present the case to a grand jury.
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, 50, was arrested in May and charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, for critically injuring Gwenevere McCord, a friend and realtor, in a subdivision’s model home in Gwinnett County, outside Atlanta.
Hill refused to discuss the case with detectives, police said, but told a 911 operator that his gun accidentally discharged while he was "practicing police tactics."
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said Thursday he would take the case to a grand jury, which could indict Hill on felony or misdemeanor charges or no charges at all, Porter said.
Under Georgia law, police officers are entitled to have criminal cases against them taken to a grand jury if they are charged with crimes while they are on duty.
"The reason we're going to the grand jury is to block any later claim that ... Hill was legally entitled to have his case presented to a grand jury rather than just having an accusation filed by a prosecutor," Porter said.
Hill did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
In a statement posted on the Clayton Sheriff's Department's Facebook page shortly after the shooting, Hill called the incident "a tragic and heartbreaking accident" and referred to McCord as "very dear to me."
(Editing by Frank McGurty, Bernard Orr)