Instead of reaching for his pepper spray or his Taser, a DeKalb County police officer drew his gun and killed an unarmed veteran suffering from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Charged with felony murder and several other charges on Thursday, the officer claims the unarmed veteran was aggressively charging towards him even though witnesses dispute his “official” version of events.
On March 9, 2015, residents called 911 to report a naked man crawling on the ground and acting deranged in the parking lot of their apartment complex.
As an Air Force veteran who had been deployed to Afghanistan, Anthony Hill had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD after returning from combat in 2012. Experiencing side effects from his medication, including a locked jaw and swollen tongue, Hill had stopped taking his prescription drugs ten days before his death while waiting for a follow-up appointment at the V.A. to switch his medications.
Responding to the scene, DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen shot Hill to death because he claimed the unarmed veteran was charging towards him. Although he was reportedly armed with a Taser and pepper spray, Olsen immediately drew his firearm and gunned down Hill even though witnesses assert the naked veteran had his hands up when the officer killed him.
According to law enforcement sources who wish to remain unidentified, cops are often trained to treat naked suspects as drug addicts high on PCP or bath salts. Although Olsen received training on how to handle people suffering from mental illness, the officer reportedly described the department as having failed “to train him and the other officers in the Department in identifying and deciphering nonviolent or nonaggressive psychological episodes versus the threat of a potentially violent encounter with a citizen high on PCP.”
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit, Hill’s family accused Olsen of having “a long and extensive history of aggressive conduct” and “propensity toward anger when dealing with members of the public.”
Earlier this month, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James Jr. asked a grand jury to charge Olsen with felony murder, aggravated assault, violating his oath of office, and making a false statement. Although over 170 fatal police shootings have been recorded in Georgia since 2010, only one officer has been charged with the killing of a civilian. That charge was later dismissed.
Despite the fact that Georgia state law allows police officers to address the panel without any threat of cross-examination or a rebuttal by prosecutors, the grand jury chose to indict Olsen on Thursday. His charges include two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of making a false statement, and two counts of violation of oath by a public officer.
Unable to differentiate between aggressive suspects on PCP and nonviolent mentally ill patients off their medication, cops have repeatedly taken the lives of innocent people suffering from mental disorders. Instead of giving them the attention and treatment that they deserve, we as a society have neglected the mentally ill and allowed the government to increasingly close down mental health facilities. After decades of denying treatment and shelter to patients suffering from extreme psychological disorders, they’ve been thrown onto the streets and into the hands of the trigger-happy cops. And we can no longer act like we aren’t responsible for what inevitably happens next.
— iPatrick J. (@PatNasty24) March 10, 2015
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This story was originally published at the Free Thought Project.