The district attorney in Decatur, Ga., says he will seek an indictment against a White police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black U.S. Air Force veteran who had struggled with mental health problems last year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Thursday.
DeKalb County prosecutor Robert James said he would ask a grand jury to indict DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen on two counts of felony murder in the shooting death of Anthony Hill. The 27-year-old man was killed by Olsen on March 9 when he responded to a call of a man behaving erratically.
James said he plans to present the case to a grand jury on Jan. 21 and will also seek to charge Olsen with violating oath of office and one count each of aggravated assault and making a false statement.
Hill was reportedly wandering naked outside his home, affected by a reaction to a medication he had been taking for bi-polar disorder, the AJC reported. Olsen was dispatched to the scene after a neighbor called 911 to get medical help for Hill. The officer later said he thought Hill was high on PCP or “bath salts” (synthetic cathinones), and believed a taser would not have been enough to subdue the suspect.
Grand jurors in October heard evidence in the case but said inconsistencies and contradictions prevented them from being able to recommend whether or not the district attorney should pursue indictment, according to the Associated Press. The grand jurors recommended further investigation.
James said at the time that he had “serious concerns” about the case.
When the case was presented for a civil review, the district attorney’s office only presented evidence but did not try to sway the grand jurors one way or the other. When prosecutors present an indictment to a different grand jury later this month, they will actively advocate for criminal charges, James said.
Hill’s girlfriend, Bridget Anderson, and his family have long demanded that Olsen face criminal charges. Anderson said she was fearful that might not happen because prosecutors and grand juries around the country have declined to bring charges in other cases in which officers have shot civilians.
“It’s just surreal right now,” Anderson told the AP. “I can’t really put into words how excited I am.”
James’ decision to bring it to a grand jury is a step closer to justice, she said, adding that she hopes the grand jurors will agree that charges are appropriate.
In November, Hill’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Atlanta Federal District Court accusing Olsen of using “illegal and excessive force.” The case is still pending.