A protester gets emotional as she prays outside the DeKalb County courthouse on Thursday, while awaiting the grand jury’s decision on whether to charge a police officer in the shooting death of a civilian.
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

DeKalb officer indicted in shooting death of unarmed civilian

A DeKalb County police officer was indicted for murder Thursday in the March 2015 fatal shooting of an unarmed and naked civilian.

District Attorney Robert James said Thursday night that an arrest warrant has been issued for Officer Robert Olsen and that Olsen will be taken into custody.

Olsen, who shot Anthony Hill, 27, after Hill approached him outside a Chamblee apartment complex, was formally charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, two counts of violating his oath of office and one count of making a false statement, James said.

Olsen becomes the first Georgia law enforcement officer in more than five years to face prosecutionin the shooting death of a civilian. Since 2010, Georgia police have been involved in 187 fatal shootings, according to an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News. Olsen is just the second officer to be indicted; in the first such case the district attorney dismissed the charge the next day.

Olsen was dispatched to the Chamblee Heights apartments after a neighbor called 911 to express concern about Hill’s welfare. The Afghanistan war veteran had stripped naked – possibly a reaction to medication he was taking for bipolar disorder, diagnosed while he was still in the Air Force, family members told the AJC – but there were no reports that he was harming or threatening any of his neighbors.

After spotting Officer Olsen, Hill began running toward the officer, slowing to a trot, witnesses say, when the officer ordered him to stop. Olsen testified that he shot Hill because he feared for his safety, believing Hill was high on either PCP or bath salts.

Olsen is white. Hill was black.

A crowd of several dozen demonstrators burst into cheers upon hearing the decision and chanted, "All six counts!" Protesters had been camped at the courthouse for days awaiting the grand jury's decision.

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