Friday, May 8, 2015

Sheriff Victor Hill: Behavioral and Statement Analysis

Sheriff Hill has been charged with a misdemeanor charge in the shooting of his female friend.  He said he was practicing police tactics and accidentally shot her.

                                             Do his words agree with this assertion?

The victim's father said that his daughter is good friends with Hill but unable to speak.  He initially said he supports Hill, but then said he would reserve judgment until he could talk to his daughter.

Sheriff Hill released another statement on Facebook asking for prayer for the victim, which wording revealed focus upon her, quite different than his initial statement,which once analyzed, is then able to be 'adjusted' publicly.

The new statement posted on the Facebook page of his agency is now removed.  It was 180 degrees different from his original statement and may have been a reaction to the statement.  If so, it shows how a statement can be contaminated, which is why police rightfully take a written statement before an interview.  Otherwise:

Questions asked outside of the legally sound, open ended questions will:

a.  influence the answers
b.  influence the language (parroting)
c.  instruct the subject as to what police know
d.  instruct the subject as to the intelligence level and personality of the Interviewer

e.  possibly teach the subject how to lie, based upon the wording of the questions. We literally teach a liar how to get out of trouble by how we word our questioning.  Analytical Interviewing is:

1. Fair minded, non-intrusive and non-interpretive
2.  Give the subject freedom to pick and choose his words, his time table, his account.
3.  Let the subject do up to 80% of all the talking
4.  Clears the innocent and implicates the guilty.

The misdemeanor charges reference "practicing police tactics" without regard to safety.  This should be viewed in light of:

1.  Behavioral Analysis
II. Statement Analysis

I.  Behavior Analysis

Hill has been a 'wild card' of sorts, reportedly firing deputies immediately upon taking office, re-painting all the patrol cars with his image, filming commercials centered around him, making him "front and center", and has had some considerably fringe views on arming his deputies with 'war like' language which opened him to much criticism.

A recent article showed him going off with a "young woman" along with other reports involving women which may suggest sexual relations.  He was charged with many counts of fraud and has been a lightning rod for controversy.

He was at an expensive model home when he shot his victim.  He called 911 (which the analysis will likely give insight into the quality of his relationship with his victim at the time of the shooting.  If he is deceptive in it, it is likely that the language will reveal this.

He reportedly gave his gun and clothing at that time, but refused to be interviewed.  Yesterday, his attorney said, "he exercised his right to remain silent."

He was not under arrest.

Behaviorally, we note that he has a reason to be silent. This means that the question,

"What happened?" is, itself, sensitive to him.

But making this behavior more complex is this:

As sheriff, he has now signaled to all those in his area of whom experiences arrest:  Do not cooperate with his law enforcement department.

We see that if the Sheriff, himself, does not trust police with being fair minded in the interview process, his citizens, that he elected, most assuredly cannot, either.

We now know that "What happened?" has been avoided.  He did not answer the question, making the question sensitive to him.  What would cause such an action?

1.  He has done something that he does not want investigators to know.
2.  He does not trust police to discern the truth.

Whether or not this was the advice of counsel, he is a Sheriff, and it is his expectation that his deputies, if ever questioned by him, would answer him, and that the citizens that entrusted this office to him, would also cooperate with him, that is, or the professionals he deputized, for the sake of truth.

As a public official, he has told constituents that he and his department are unreliable in handling serious matters.

II.  Statement Analysis

You may now combine the reckless "police tactics" practicing neglect charge with his own behavior and his statement's analysis conclusion to discern, even without the victim's statement, if his defense of accidental shooting because he was demonstrating tactics is reliable.

We could, with this new information, change the "expected" in analysis.  He could have said, "I shot my friend, Gwenevere, by accident when I was showing her a technique.  Please pray for her as she is seriously injured.  My foolish behavior..." or something like this.  The "police tactics" is alleged to have been part of the 911 call.

Eventually, if health allows, the victim will be faced with the question of whether or not to cooperate (since the shooter did not) and if so, whether or not to tell the truth. If there are any elements of coercion or indications of Domestic Violence, this may show up in her language.  There is another element which must be considered by the prosecutor regarding the victim's statement:

Sometimes victims of Domestic Violence who are not currently involved in a D/V relationship, it can still show up in the linguistic indicators even though it may be many years in the past

If so:

They must be aware of the potential for minimization and denial, along with self blame.  This is where a skilled interviewer who understands the linguistic signals of PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms, will know how to properly word the follow up questions.

Even if she does not tell the truth, the words she choose will reveal what happened.  What we do know, to this point, is that the Sheriff's initial statement was self interest driven, which, if news reports are true about his activities of the last two tenures, is consistent with his personality.

"As reported, on May 3, 2015, I was involved in a tragic and heartbreaking accident. Gwenevere McCord, who is very dear to me, was critically injured in this accident. Please understand that for the past 48 hours, I have been entirely focused on Gwenevere and her family. I will continue to pray unceasingly for her recovery. I ask you all to please pray for Gwenevere and her family throughout this most difficult time."

Here is the statement analyzed:

"As reported, 

This is to affirm that he is addressing what has been reported and a linguistic signal that this statement is prepared with the media reports in mind.  This is similar to a "self reference" where a subject says, "Like I said before..." or "As I told the other officer" which suggests that experiential memory is not foremost, but memory of what was earlier referenced.  It is to be aware of what was "reported" in the press as taking emphasis over experiential memory.  

The reader should be aware of this as possibly reduced reliability.  

on May 3, 2015, I was involved in a tragic and heartbreaking accident. 

1.  The date is referenced, because that is what media reported and it is, therefore, confirmed:  a signal that the subject is working from the media report rather than experiential memory. 

2.  "I was involved" is passive voice.  This is a deliberate use of a phrase that avoids responsibility for the shooting.  The allegation is that he shot a woman.  He avoids admission of shooting, which is the nature of passivity:  it conceals identity and/or responsibility.  Where a shot is fired from an unknown entity in a crowd, passivity is appropriate.  

In a shooting where he is the shooter, this is an attempt to avoid responsibility for the shooting. 

3.  He reports that it was an "accident", while avoiding responsibility for causing it.  An "accident" indicates unintended. We see if the rest of his statement bears this out.  Thus far, the passivity does not. 

4.  Notice that the "accident" is "tragic" and "heartbreaking."  

This is to use "narrative form", that is, the editing of an account to include emotion. It belies a need to show that there was no intent on his part, which should cause investigators to learn if there was because it calls our attention to motive. 

5.  Note that his "involvement" with a "tragic and heartbreaking accident" comes first.  This is more important than the victim, who comes after this, in his priority. 

6.  Note that in the first sentence, he avoids saying he shot someone, or even, in passive voice, that someone was shot.  

For most, the shooting is the most important element of the story. 

It is not for him, however.  He has a different focus.  

Note that this statement avoids any mention of anyone but him.  

Gwenevere McCord, who is very dear to me

1.  We note that Gwenevere McCord is an incomplete social introduction.  This is an indication of a problematic relationship at the time within the statement.  This means that as he looks back to write about what happened (the very question he refused to answer at the scene), he feels the need to persuade the audience of  the quality of their relationship; which, itself, is the focal point of the analysis. 

2.  "who is very dear to me" shows:

a.  distancing language.  She is not, "my friend, Gwenevere McCord" but has the name distant from the word "me",

b.  The word "me" is included in the second sentence, confirming the importance of the first sentence:  the focus is not the victim, but the subject, himself.

Recall the rule of Statement Analysis:  Where one begins a statement is very important to the subject and sometimes even the reason for writing.  In spite of the shooting of a woman, the subject, himself, remains the dominant theme. 

c.  Note "who is very dear to me" is to affirm the problematic relationship with the need to persuade closeness to the victim.  It is unnecessary wording that indicates a need to persuade, and even justify:  he would not have shot her because she is so dear to him.  Not only is the emphasis on "me" (the subject) but its inclusion, particularly after the incomplete social introduction, is problematic. 

If the victim has been involved previously with the subject, investigators should seek to learn if any elements of coercion exist that may lead to denial, or minimization. 

Investigators are likely to learn of a serious problem in their relationship.  

was critically injured in this accident.

Her status comes only after he makes sure the reader knows:

1.  He was "involved" but not responsible
2.  He was emotionally attached to her
3.  This is tragic and heartbreaking, but we do not know to whom, outside of the context emphasis, which is the subject himself
4.  that she is "dear" to "me", which, in priority, is more important, in the statement, than she being "critically injured" as order shows priority. 

 Please understand that for the past 48 hours, 

Note the need to be polite.  Before asking for prayer for the victim, the reader/audience is asked to understand his lack of cooperation in the investigation:  his focus: 

I have been entirely focused on Gwenevere and her family.

The need to qualify his focus, in light of "critical" shooting, suggests that his focus has been on something else:  the statement bears out this emphasis:


 I will continue to pray unceasingly for her recovery. I ask you all to please pray for Gwenevere and her family throughout this most difficult time."

Note the need for prayer:  before asking the audience to pray, it must be known in his priority that he will "continue to pray unceasingly", placing emphasis upon himself, over her need for prayers to be answered. 

One might consider this as an entry of "Divinity" in  a statement. 

Analysis conclusion:

The subject's focus is upon himself in a narcissistic manner.  
He avoids responsibility for the shooting.  Even in accidents, the innocent one who pulled the trigger will take responsibility for this action. 
He editorializes in order to gain sympathy for himself.
He addresses emotions to avoid intent, suggesting intent is sensitive.
He gives us several indications of a problematic relationship between himself and his victim.  

His defense :  "accidental shooting due to practicing or demonstrating police tactics."

Thus far, his words do not agree with this assertion. 

Given the analysis of his original statement and the "Behavioral Analysis" of his initial reaction, it is likely that these charges will be reviewed once the victim is able to speak.


John Mc Gowan said...

OT Update

DOJ announces investigation into Baltimore police practices

maudes harold said...

Maybe Hill is a member of the faux Masonic Fraternal Police Department run by associates of Kamala Harris here is ole sunny California???

Unknown said...

I held back from saying this before, (I didn't want to suggest something disparaging to the victim) but is anyone else thinking this was a sexual encounter gone wrong?

(Meaning rough, or dominant sex, where he was possibly holding the gun on her.)

I'm definitely not buying the 'police training tactics' excuse, and I can't think of another reason why they would be hanging out in a model home together, 'wrestling' around, and one of them ending up getting shot.

Anonymous said...

op Investigator for Team Mosby Demoted, Tased by Baltimore PD in 2009

A major conflict of interest has arisen in State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s already highly problematic investigation into the death of Freddie Gray.

Avon Mackel, one of Team Mosby’s top investigators, reportedly has a checkered past as a former high-ranking officer with the Baltimore Police Department.

According to CNN, Mackel was stripped of his command in 2009 for “failing to follow through on a robbery investigation that two of his officers mishandled and did not report”:

A Baltimore Sun report said police in the district were accused of classifying serious crimes as lesser in order to log lower crime rates.

In October 2009, four months after his demotion, Baltimore County police sent a SWAT team to Mackel’s home, responding a drunken incident in which he was seen holding a gun, according to a police report of the incident obtained by CNN.

Officers said an intoxicated Mackel refused to cooperate and was visibly upset, according to the report provided in response to a public records request. An officer then “observed the barrel of Mackel’s handgun hanging over the edge of the molding at the top of the steps and saw Mackel pull the gun out of sight,” the report said.

Police used a Taser on Mackel while he was on the phone with his father “crying and yelling,” before he barricaded himself in his bedroom. The report doesn’t say how the incident ended, but police said there was no arrest. A spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department said “the [SWAT] tactical unit did assist with this incident, which ended peacefully.”

CNN reports that Mackel didn’t respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Needless to say, the optics here are terrible for the prosecution. The possibility that one of Mosby’s lead attorneys might “have it in” for the Baltimore Police Department presents opportunities for defense attorneys seeking out weakness in Mosby’s case.

Tania Cadogan said...

If she is unable to speak she may be able to write what happened.
The question is will she write the truth as it happened or will she write what she wants us to think happened or will she write what she thinks HE wants to say happened?

Her relationship with him and his to her will dictate what she tells us.

Since there is clearly a poor relationship between him and her, is it reciprocated indicating possibly a fight or, does she believe she is the one at fault and deserved what happened, that she provoked him in someway, classic DV victim behavior.

I wonder if he has had access to her and if he was left alone with her or if there were others present?

I ask as if he had time alone with her and given his nature, it is entirely possible that he has made it clear that she is to claim it was an accident or there will be consequences which she may not survive.

After all, he is the sheriff and his word is law.
If he is believed then next time she may not survive and he will again claim accident or suicide or similar.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


maudes harold said...

I was kind of kidding at first with the association because of the uniforms, but now, who knows.

But check out this group's website, with particular attention paid to the 'star' on the 'badge'.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I love understated humor.

I have a bumper sticker that says,

"Hob Nob said it, I believe it, that settles it."


Tania Cadogan said...

Peter, next time i invade the states, i will buy you a coffee and even a donut :)

Anonymous said...

Jen Ow, ref your post dated 5/8; if you know anything about open houses you would know that the sheriff would not be attempting to commit hanky-panky with the real estate agent during the hours of the model home open house. Doors are left open and unlocked during these hours so that potential buyers can come and go at random.

Generally, these homes are fully furnished and have been staged for appeal to the buying public. It would be unheard of for a prospective buyer to be able to corner an agent for sex during an open house with doors wide open and the possibility of the flow of traffic wandering in and out; not if he expected any privacy.

However, it is not unheard of that a so-called buyer would linger behind and attack an agent after hours of the open house, even murdered. It would be interesting to know what time of day the sheriff shot the agent. Do you know?

Better still, why was the sheriff playing around with his loaded gun at an open house if it happened during the hours the house was being held open? Or, why was he playing around with it at all? Several unanswered questions come to mind that could exceed the possibility of a sexual overture gone wrong.

There is more to this story.

Unknown said...

Anon 6:22, I agree there is more to the story.

"Hill and McCord were ALONE in the model home that's listed at $329,990, and he's the one who called 911 around 5:39 p.m., police said. However, police said he kept mum after that."

"The shooting scene is about 50 miles northeast of Jonesboro, where Hill's office is located".


-Where are you getting information that this happened during an open house? I haven't read that anywhere. The article I read states that they were alone in the model home. (Obviously the setting was private enough to engage in practicing so called 'police tactics'.)

The nature of their relationship shows sensitivity, with Hill referring to her as 'very dear to me', and with an incomplete social intro. The possibility of a sexual escapade gone wrong, is as viable as any other possibility, in my opinion. He drove 50 miles from his office to the model home for some reason! ;-)

We shall see what the investigation uncovers.

Unknown said...

He called 911 at 5:39. (Hopefully he called 911 immediately, so that's the best estimate I can make as to what time she was shot.)

maudes harold said...


My first thought upon reading about this was along the lines of a sexcapade of some sort that went wrong as well.