Grand jury: More facts needed in shooting of naked man

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2015 5:33 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — A grand jury on Thursday recommended that prosecutors further investigate the case of an Atlanta-area police officer who fatally shot an unarmed naked man.

DeKalb County police Officer Robert Olsen shot Anthony Hill on March 9 while responding to a call of a man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex. Hill's girlfriend has said Hill was a U.S. Air Force veteran who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and stopped taking his medication.

The office of DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James presents all cases involving shootings by officers to a grand jury for civil review and the jury makes a recommendation as to whether they should be considered for criminal prosecution. Ultimately, the district attorney decides whether to seek indictment.

The grand jurors heard testimony in the case last week, but decided there were too many inconsistencies and contradictions.

Specifically, they recommended a follow-up interview with another officer who was first to arrive after the shooting, and they suggested a second, more thorough interview to clarify what Olsen told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the shooting.

James, the district attorney, said his office will continue to investigate the case and will decide whether to pursue criminal charges.

"I am familiar with the facts and circumstances pertaining to the Anthony Hill case and have serious concerns regarding this matter," James said in an emailed statement.

Chris Chestnut, an attorney for Hill's family, attended the grand jury's civil review hearing with Hill's mother, Carolyn Giummo. He praised James for holding the civil review process, which he said makes the process more transparent than when a district attorney simply presents a case to a grand jury behind closed doors.

Chestnut says the grand jury's recommendations indicate to him that the grand jurors didn't believe the officer and wanted a fact check.

"I think the DA has more than enough compelling, uncontroverted evidence to charge this officer with some degree of murder," Chestnut said. "It is abundantly clear that he used excessive force, that this was an unjustified killing of a veteran."

A phone number for Olsen could not immediately be found and it wasn't immediately clear who his lawyer is.

The grand jury also conducted a civil review of four other officer-involved shootings during its term and recommended that the district attorney not pursue indictment against the officers in any of those cases.

One of those cases was that of Officer Joseph Pitts, who fatally shot Kevin Davis on Dec. 29. DeKalb police have said Pitts was responding to a 911 call of a person stabbed. Pitts shot and killed a pit bull that ran at him and then shot Davis because Davis refused to put down a gun, police have said.

Davis' family has disputed that account.

"In the matter of Kevin Davis, we will take the recommendation under consideration, review the facts and make a final determination how we will proceed," James said.