Once Hill, 27, spotted the officer, he began running, or jogging, toward him. Olsen emerged from his vehicle with his gun drawn. He ordered Hill to stop two times. When Hill ignored his commands, Olsen, who has claimed self-defense, fired two shots. Hill died at the scene.
September 23, 2019 - Decatur - Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson ruled on motions that were filed in the case on Friday as jury selection began in the murder trial of former DeKalb County Police Officer Robert "Chip" Olsen. Bob Andres / email@example.com
Credit: Bob Andres
Credit: Bob Andres
Nineteen jurors — 14 women and 5 men — were qualified from the first two panels. Olsen followed the questioning intently throughout the grueling 11-hour session.
Based on the first day of jury pool questioning, a change of venue seems highly unlikely. There’s no sense of “pervasive bias” against Olsen — his name barely registered with potential jurors questioned Monday.
Olsen’s jury pool draws from one of Georgia’s most diverse counties. A little more than half of DeKalb’s residents are black; whites make up one-third of the populace.
Race will be an unavoidable factor in the selection process. The defendant is a white ex-cop. The victim, who aspired to be a music producer, was a black male.
But this pool has already challenged some popular assumptions. Three African Americans of varying ages said they do not believe law enforcement treats blacks differently because of their race. That’s an answer sure to endear them to the defense.
Conversely, six white potential jurors said they believe blacks are treated unfairly by cops.
“As a white woman, I’ve been given warnings where I know people of color have not,” said Juror 10, who works in an art gallery. “When a white woman gets murdered, her case is going to get a lot more attention.”
State discloses plea offer rejected by ex-DeKalb cop charged with murder
Prosecutors, defense spar in advance of Olsen trial
Prior to jury selection, Dear Jackson ruled jurors will be allowed to hear limited testimony about Hill's mental health history. Prosecutors will also be able to introduce evidence about DeKalb police’s use-of-force policy, the judge decided.
Defense attorney Don Samuel had argued Georgia’s stand your ground law trumps county guidelines for its law enforcement officers and said Olsen should be treated as any other defendant would be.
Hill was honorably discharged from the Air Force after serving in Afghanistan, and diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The state said he was "off his meds," which Anderson said gave Hill adverse reactions.
The underlying felony in the murder count against Olsen alleges he violated his oath of office by not following county policy when he shot Hill.
With regard to testimony about Hill’s mental illness, the defense has argued that such evidence is irrelevant to Olsen’s guilt or innocence and could lead jurors to be overly sympathetic to Hill.
The state can ask witnesses if Hill had mental health issues. Questions about his medical discharge from the Air Force and about the medications he was prescribed — but had stopped taking before the day he died — will also be allowed.
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