For the second time in a week, a jury will decide the fate of a former police officer charged with murder for killing an unarmed black man.
Jurors on Friday began deliberating the case against former DeKalb County, Georgia, police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen. They met for five hours and will resume deliberations Monday morning.
Olsen is accused of the March 2015 killing of Anthony Hill, a 26-year-old US Air Force veteran of the Afghanistan War. Hill was naked when Olsen shot him in the chest and neck. Trial testimony indicated that Hill struggled with mental illness.
The ex-officer stands charged with two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, violation of oath of office and making a false statement.
Hill’s shooting led to protests in Atlanta that mirrored nationwide demonstrations over race, policing and excessive force in recent police killings.
On the day Hill was shot, 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 after the shooting.
A seven-year veteran of the department, 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.
“When the male 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.
Olsen did not take the stand during his trial.
During closing arguments Thursday, the prosecution claimed Olsen did not follow protocol for using force. Assistant District Attorney Lance Cross grabbed a baton and extended it in front of the jury.
Lance Cross, an assistant district attorney, grabbed a baton and extended it in front of the jury.
“This is a weapon. He could’ve used this. We wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer put her hands on Olsen’s shoulder and said he’s “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.
Hill had his arms up with nowhere to hide a weapon, witnesses said under prosecutors’ questioning, but defense attorney Don Samuel argued his client didn’t have a clear picture of Hill’s actions or his background. He knew only that people had called 911 scared of a man acting up, Samuel said.
In opening statements last week, prosecutors said Olsen was uncomfortable when he saw Hill running naked outside the apartment complex, but it didn’t give him a reason to shoot.
But defense attorney Don Samuel argued his client didn’t have a clear picture of Hill’s actions or what his background was.
He only knew that people had called 911 scared of a man acting up, Samuel said.
“How does a human being react when you have six or seven seconds, and someone is running at you?” Samuel said.
Earlier this week, a jury convicted former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger of murder after she killed 26-year-old Botham Jean, an unarmed black man, in his own apartment in September 2018. Guyger, who is white, faced up to life in prison but a jury sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
Both officers killed unarmed men, but the cases are different. Guyger was off-duty when she said she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment, which was one floor above her unit, and thought she saw an intruder. Police were called to the scene of Hill’s shooting, and Olsen responded.
Few police officers ever face trial for shooting deaths on duty, let alone are convicted.
Since 2005, 106 law enforcement officers have been arrested for murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting, according to research by Philip Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. Of those, 35 officers have been convicted of a crime.
Stinson’s figures show that 35 officers have been convicted of a crime that resulted from the on-duty shooting. The criminal cases for 45 officers didn’t result in a conviction, and another 26 cases are still pending, including Olsen’s case, according to Stinson.
CNN’s LaRell Reynolds, Lindsay Benson, Talya Faggart and Ila Wilborn contributed to this report.