ATLANTA (AP) — The woman who was shot and critically wounded by a Georgia sheriff told a detective the shooting was an accident that happened while they were practicing self-defense tactics in an empty model home, her father said Friday.
Gwenevere McCord, 43, was able to speak Thursday for the first time since the May 3 shooting after doctors removed a tube from her throat, her father Ernest McCord told The Associated Press.
Gwenevere McCord and Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill were alone in the model home in Gwinnett County, roughly 50 miles northeast of Hill's office, when the shooting happened. Hill called 911 and told an operator that it was an accident that happened while they were "practicing tactics." First responders found McCord by the front door of the home.
Hill faces a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct in the shooting. He was released from jail on a $2,950 bond and has vowed to stay on the job.
Hill's time as sheriff in Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, has been filled with controversy. On his first day a decade ago, he fired more than two dozen deputies. He also used a military tank on drug raids as part of a tough-on-crime message during his first term.
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, and he had kept a relatively low profile until this month's shooting.
Hill refused to make any statements to police after the shooting.
Gwenevere McCord told the detective Thursday evening that she and Hill were practicing police exercises for protection and that the shooting happened when Hill grabbed the wrong gun while teaching her to defend herself, her father said.
A list of items taken from the house by police includes a "gun, badge and knives from front porch," a .22-caliber handgun, a .40-caliber handgun and a blue training gun.
Police said in a statement released Friday that McCord told them she and Hill were practicing "police tactics" when Hill shot her by mistake.
"McCord claimed that Hill would never intentionally harm her," the statement says.
McCord is a real estate agent and wanted to learn self-defense since she's frequently alone in model homes, her father said. She had bought a gun and had been going to a shooting range to practice in recent months, Ernest McCord said.
He said his daughter's condition is improving faster than doctors expected. Growing up the only girl with four brothers made her tough, he said.
"She's a strong fighter," he said.
When doctors told Ernest McCord they were removing the tube Thursday, they warned that his daughter might not be able to speak right away. So he was surprised when he walked back into the room and went to hang clothes in the closet and his daughter said, "Where have you been?"
"I thought, 'Thank you, Lord, she's coming around,'" Ernest McCord said. "I was full of joy."