A DeKalb County, Ga., grand jury has decided to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a U.S. Air Force veteran who was experiencing a mental-health crisis last year, the Washington Post reports.
Officer Robert Olsen was indicted on six counts, including two counts of felony murder, two counts of violation of oath, one count of aggravated assault and one count of making a false statement on Thursday in relation to the shooting death of Anthony Hill.
Hill was killed in March 2015 while Olsen was responding to a 911 call about a naked man who was behaving erratically outside an apartment complex. Hill’s family have said in a wrongful death lawsuit against Olsen that the 27-year-old vet was going through a "nonviolent mental episode" stemming from trauma sustained during his deployment in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert D. James Jr. had announced that he would recommend that Olsen face charges.
“My job as a prosecutor is to seek justice,” James said at a news conference Thursday announcing the charges. “My job as a prosecutor is to match what I believe to be facts to existing law in the official court of Georgia, and to do what I believe is right under the law. That’s what we do in every case, and that’s what we did in this case.”
As the Post notes, James clarified the difference between felony murder, which is a murder that occurs while a felony is being committed, and malice murder, which implies a specific intent to kill. The felonies that Olsen allegedly committed are aggravated assault and violation of oath in office.
The officer is accused of violating the DeKalb County Police Department’s use-of-force policy, as well as giving a false statement to another officer, in which he accused Hill of "pounding on his chest."
Olsen’s lawyer, Dan Samuel, told the Associated Press in an email that he was disappointed by the grand jury’s decision, adding that the defense was not allowed to present any witnesses, experts or evidence and was also not allowed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
“The prosecutors chose not to present all the witnesses who clearly observed what occurred, including the one witness who told the police that Mr. Hill was ‘attacking’ and ‘charging’ at Officer Olsen,” Samuel told the AP. “When this case is presented in a fair manner to a jury in an open courtroom, Officer Olsen will be fully exonerated.”
Hill’s mother, Carolyn Baylor-Giummo, is satisfied by the decision thus far.
“The message is that you have to be accountable for your own actions,” Baylor-Giummo said, according to the Post. “When you decide to do something, if it’s not right, there are consequences and you have to be held accountable for it.”