Family sues police in shooting death of unarmed, naked Georgia man

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2015 4:17 PM

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A white police officer who shot to death an unarmed, nude black man last March in Georgia had a history of aggression and was inadequately trained in dealing with the mentally ill, the deceased man's family said in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

DeKalb County policeman Robert Olsen had only seven hours of training in the use of deadly force during his seven years as a policeman, and several reprimands for "rough and aggressive interactions with the public," the federal lawsuit said.

Neither Olsen nor the DeKalb County police department, which is also named in the suit, could immediately be reached for comment.

Oslen shot U.S. Air Force veteran Anthony Hill, 27, during an encounter on March 9 in an apartment complex parking lot. Police have said he was "acting deranged" and ran toward Olsen in a threatening manner.

But Hill, who was naked, was experiencing a "non-violent mental episode" from a disorder developed while serving in the U.S. military in Afghanistan, according to the lawsuit.

"Mr. Hill slowly approached Olsen with his arms stretched wide open out to his side, showing that he was unarmed," the lawsuit said. "As Mr. Hill was nude and completely exposed, Olsen had no reasonable basis to form the suspicion that Mr. Hill was armed or dangerous."

Olsen could have used a baton, pepper spray or a stun gun to subdue Hill but shot him instead, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified financial damages.

A DeKalb County grand jury reviewed the case last month and recommended the local district attorney conduct a further investigation before deciding on whether to seek criminal charges against Olsen.

Hill's death came as a spate of killings in the United States raised questions about the excessive use of force by police, particularly against black men.

(Editing by Karen and Alan Crosby)