Protesters, including Brandan Marshall holding a photo of Anthony Hill, take to the streets of downtown Decatur to protest Hill's shooting death on March 9, 2015.  BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM
Photo: Ben Gray / Gray /
Photo: Ben Gray / Gray /

NEW DETAILS: Judge tosses civil rights suit against DeKalb in fatal police shooting

Criminal trial set to begin in September

A federal judge has dismissed civil rights claims against DeKalb County filed by the family of a naked, unarmed man who was shot and killed by a county police officer four years ago.

The lawsuit was brought by the relatives of Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders. On March 9, 2015, Hill was off his medications and wandering around the Heights at Chamblee Apartments with no clothes on, prompting a manager to call 911.

Officer Robert “Chip” Olsen was dispatched to the scene. When he arrived, Hill began running toward Olsen’s patrol car from an estimated 150 feet away. Olsen got out of the car with his gun drawn and began retreating as Hill advanced. When Hill kept running after Olsen told him to stop, Olsen fired two fatal shots, one struck Hill’s neck, the other his torso.

Former DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen listens to testimony during his pretrial immunity hearing in May 2018. (STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Olsen resigned from the force after being indicted for murder for the Aug. 3, 2015, incidentHe is scheduled to stand trial in September.

In 2017, Hill’s family filed a civil rights lawsuit against both Olsen and DeKalb County. The claims against Olsen are still pending.

In the claims against the county, Hill’s family contended DeKalb failed to provide Olsen with adequate training for interacting with mentally ill individuals and for deescalating crises. This was particularly important because the county knew its officers, armed with deadly weapons, would be among the first to respond to those experiencing a mental-health crisis. And officers without appropriate training could mistakenly believe a mentally disturbed person posed a threat, the family said.

Anthony Hill was honorably discharged from the Air Force after serving in Afghanistan, and diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was off his medications when he was shot and killed by DeKalb Police Officer Robert “Chip” Olsen.

But U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten, in an order issued last week, said DeKalb has “express written policies on use of force and dealing with mentally ill individuals and requires officers to receive regular training beyond the training required by the state of Georgia.”

DeKalb’s training, Batten added, “followed the recommended best practices of law enforcement agencies in Georgia and the United States.”

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