A former Georgia police officer was found not guilty of murder Monday more than four years after he killed a naked, unarmed black man who was mentally ill.
A jury in DeKalb County found Robert “Chip” Olsen guilty of aggravated assault, making a false statement, and two counts of violation of oath, but acquitted him on two felony murder charges.
Olsen faces up to 35 years in prison and is due to be sentenced November 1. Judge Latisha Dear Jackson said he can remain out on an $80,000 bond until then, though he will have an ankle monitor and be subject to a curfew.
Olsen was charged with killing Anthony Hill, a 26-year-old Afghanistan war veteran, in March 2015. Prior to the shooting, someone in his neighborhood called police to report a man “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked,” then-DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said afterward.
Olsen was dispatched and “when (Hill) saw the officer, he charged, running at the officer. The officer called him to stop while stepping backwards, drew his weapon and fired two shots,” Alexander said.
Hill had a history of mental illness and struggled to get the support he needed from the Department of Veterans Affairs, his girlfriend, Bridget Anderson, previously said. She said he stopped taking his medication shortly before his death.
During closing arguments, the prosecution claimed Olsen did not follow protocol for using force. Assistant District Attorney Lance Cross said he could have used a baton on Hill.
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer said Olsen was “a good cop who had to make a tough decision.”
“Chip Olsen is not a murderer and is not guilty of any count in this indictment,” she said.
Olsen had no history of violence, and he never faced accusations of using excessive force during his time with the department, the defense said. Witnesses said Olsen asked Hill several times to stop as he ran toward him and that Hill slowed down just before Olsen pulled the trigger.
As the jury read the verdict, Olsen’s wife left the courtroom loudly crying. The Hill family remained, quietly crying and wiping tears.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston sat next to Anthony Hill’s mother, Carolyn Baylor Giummo, in court. At different times, state prosecutors approached Ms. Giummo to console her, and Boston would explain to her what was happening.
One juror, a 36-year-old father who declined to give his name or show his face on camera, said that he and four other jurors wanted to find Olsen guilty on the murder charges.
But after more than a week of deliberations, he and the other jurors ultimately agreed to compromise in reaching their verdict, he said.