Georgia grand jury indicts police officer for murder of black man

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 9:06 PM

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A grand jury indicted a white police officer on Thursday for felony murder and other criminal charges in the shooting death of an unarmed, naked black man at an apartment complex near Atlanta last March.

The charges come as prosecutors face increased scrutiny over how they treat cases of police use of deadly force, particularly against minorities. The Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by police killings of unarmed black men since 2014, has focused attention on race and policing.

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James told reporters that DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen was indicted on six charges for the March 9 shooting of 27-year-old Anthony Hill.

Hill, a U.S. Air Force veteran who suffered from bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, was having a manic episode when he was shot to death while naked in the parking lot of his apartment building, according to his family.

Olsen told a civil grand jury last year that Hill was coming at him in a hostile manner and disobeyed commands to stop, making him feel threatened.

The grand jury at the time recommended further investigation.

Olsen was indicted on two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, violating his oath of office and making a false statement, James said.

"My job as a prosecutor is to seek justice," James told the news conference. "That's what we do in every case, and that's what we did in this case.

James said a warrant was issued for Olsen's arrest and that he expected him to be taken into custody soon.

Olsen's attorney, Donald English, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Protesters in Atlanta braved frigid nights and camped out in front of the courthouse this week, demanding justice for Hill.

The charges come just weeks after an Ohio grand jury cleared two Cleveland police officers who fatally shot a 12-year-old black child who was playing with a toy gun in a park, sparking widespread anger.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Peter Cooney)