He said he was trained to deal with mentally ill suspects like Hill, who suffered from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders.
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In testimony earlier Monday, details were revealed about the moments before the veteran was shot.
As DeKalb officer Robert Olsen was en route to the Chamblee Heights apartment complex, Afghanistan War veteran Anthony Hill was desperately seeking help.
“He was just there saying strange things, like ‘The devil is coming,’” maintenance worker Pedro Castillo testified Monday at an immunity hearing for Olsen.
The former DeKalb County officer insists he acted in self-defense on March 9, 2015, when he fatally shot Hill, unarmed and unclothed, twice in the midsection.
“Suddenly (Hill) said, ‘Help me, help me,’” Castillo said.
Judge JP Boulee could dismiss murder charges against Olsen if he is convinced that Olsen feared for his safety and responded appropriately during his deadly encounter with Hill.
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Castillo testified that he and another maintenance worker walked Hill, then wearing shorts and a T-shirt, back to his apartment without incident. They had warned him they would have to call the police if he didn’t comply.
“Good. The police are my friends,” Hill responded, according to Castillo.
Credit: Steve Schaefer
Credit: Steve Schaefer
Apartment manager Grisselle Torres, who called 911, said she wasn’t worried about the safety of the other residents. “I was concerned about Anthony Hill,” she said.
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Hill had re-emerged from his apartment, naked and hunched over on the ground, by the time Olsen arrived at Chamblee Heights. He could be heard saying, “I love you, mommy,” Castillo testified.
Olsen, according to defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer, had prepared for a much different scenario based on the information given to him by a 911 operator.
“His training tells him that people who become naked likely are experiencing some type of excited delirium, possibly caused by PCP or some mind-altering substance,” Clark Palmer said. Olsen also knew that such suspects often exhibit superhuman strength and are impervious to pain.
“It’s a situation where he needs to be on high alert,” Clark Palmer said. “His antennae are up, so to speak.”
But Hill, countered the state, was no threat. “He had a mental illness and he was off his meds,” prosecutor Lance Cross said. Hill had been diagnosed with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders while in the U.S. Air Force.
“He wasn’t hurting anybody,” Cross continued. “He had no weapon. Not a stick. Not a rock.”
Olsen exited his vehicle with his gun drawn, “the thing that escalated the situation to its highest level,” Cross said.
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Castillo testified that Hill’s hands were stretched out, waist-high. Olsen repeatedly told him to stop.
“He didn’t stop running,” Castillo said. “His speed just became less.”
Ge live updates on Twitter @reporterJCB.