Officer who shot naked man found not guilty of murder

Officer who shot naked man found not guilty of murder

DECATUR, Ga. — A former Georgia police officer who fatally shot an unarmed, naked man was found not guilty of murder Monday but was convicted of aggravated assault and other charges that could send him to prison for more than 30 years.

Robert “Chip” Olsen’s face turned red and he squeezed his eyes shut tightly as the verdict was read. His wife, Kathy Olsen, began sobbing and had to be led from the courtroom.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson set bond for Olsen at $80,000, ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in effect until his sentencing Nov. 1.

Olsen, now 57, was a DeKalb County police officer in March 2015 when he responded to a call of a naked man behaving erratically outside an Atlanta-area apartment complex. Shortly after arriving, he fatally shot 26-year-old Anthony Hill, an Air Force veteran who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. A grand jury indicted Olsen nearly a year after the shooting. Olsen is white and Hill was black.

Hill’s parents said they didn’t want Olsen released on bond while he awaits sentencing.

“It’s been four years that we’ve been waiting for this,” said his mother, Carolyn Giummo. “My son is no longer here. … I just feel like it’s time now.”

In addition to aggravated assault, Olsen was convicted of two counts of violating his oath of office and one count of making a false statement. The assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years; each of the other three counts carries a sentence of up to five years.

The jury acquitted Olsen on two counts of felony murder, charges that would have carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison. A felony murder charge doesn’t imply intent to kill but rather that a death occurred as a person was committing another felony, in this case aggravated assault or violation of his oath.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston, whose office prosecuted the case, said she appreciated the time the jurors spent and respected their verdict.

“I think all of you know that these cases are very difficult, not just here in Georgia but across the United States,” Boston said. “It is very difficult to prosecute a police officer for murder under these circumstances.”

One of the jurors, who asked that his name not be used because he didn’t want to be linked to the high-profile case, said the fact that Olsen was a police officer made the deliberations difficult, noting that about half the jurors believed Olsen was acting in self-defence.

By the time they reached a verdict, jurors were pretty evenly split — largely along racial lines — between those who wanted to convict Olsen of murder and those who didn’t, with most white jurors wanting to acquit, he said.

Ultimately, the juror said, he was afraid they wouldn’t be able to reach a unanimous verdict, the case would end up in a mistrial and a subsequent jury wouldn’t convict on any of the counts. So he and some of the others agreed to acquit on the murder charges as long as they reached a guilty verdict on the aggravated assault charge.

“I felt good about it knowing that I got some justice out of it,” he said.

Monday’s verdict came on the heels of a Texas jury finding a white former Dallas police officer guilty of murder in the shooting death of a black man in his home. Amber Guyger, who testified that she mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, was convicted on Oct. 1 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Early Saturday morning, a white police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, shot and killed a black woman in her home early Saturday morning while responding to a call about an open front door. The police chief said Monday that the officer, Aaron Dean, acted without justification when he killed 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson. The officer resigned Monday before he could be fired.

In the Olsen case , the apartment complex property manager testified that she saw Hill, a resident, wearing shorts but no shoes or shirt and behaving strangely on March 9, 2015. After maintenance workers got him to go to his apartment, he reemerged a short time later without any clothes.

The property manager, who testified that she was worried for Hill’s safety because he was behaving so bizarrely, called 911 three times.

Olsen was told by dispatch there was a naked man who was “possibly demented.” Hill was squatting in a roadway when Olsen arrived but jumped up and ran toward the patrol car, according to testimony from several witnesses.

Olsen got out of his car and yelled, “Stop! Stop!” Hill didn’t stop, and Olsen shot him twice, witnesses said.

Prosecutors argued that Olsen unreasonably and unnecessarily used deadly force to deal with the unarmed, naked man who was suffering a mental health crisis. Defence attorneys countered that Olsen had limited information about the situation, was scared to death and had only seconds to make a tough decision.

During closing arguments, lawyers for both sides told jurors they needed to decide whether Olsen’s actions were reasonable given the situation.

The verdict finally came on the sixth day of deliberations.

Attorneys for Olsen didn’t immediately comment and didn’t respond to an email seeking comment on the verdict.

Kate Brumback, The Associated Press

Officer acquitted of murder

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eva Pennock got an unlikely visit from a horse at a Three Hills Health Care Centre. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Pennock)
Unlikely visitor brings cheer to residents at Three Hills Health Care Centre

An unlikely visitor spread some cheer and good tidings this week at… Continue reading

(File photo by Advocate staff)
Zero tax increase approved by Red Deer city council for 2021 and 2022

City council passed operating budgets for the next two years on Thursday

Red Deer city council approved a $39.6 million police budget for 2021, up for inflationary reasons from $37.9 million in 2020. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council retains police funding, while also launching a crisis team

De-funding police is not a conversation in this municipality

Alberta reported an additional 1,854 cases of COVID-19 Thursday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories)
Red Deer has 289 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

The Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre in Red Deer has new owners. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer has new ownership group

‘They’re making an investment in this iconic hotel for the future,’ says general manager Gil Vallee

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Police are on the lookout for Hugo Strohschein, 85, was last seen shortly before 10 p.m. on Dec. 3 in Red Deer. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP seek help to locate missing 85-year-old man

The Red Deer RCMP is hoping for the public’s help to locate… Continue reading

A masked worker walks behind a hiring sign on his way into the Dover Cliffs long term care home in Port Dover, Ont., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Statistics Canada will say this morning how Canada's job market fared last month as COVID-19 case counts rose along with a new round of public health restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian economy added 62,000 jobs in November, Statistics Canada says

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the economy added 62,000 jobs in November… Continue reading

Bank towers are shown from Bay Street in Toronto's financial district, on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrien Veczan
North American stocks up in early trading, loonie tops 78 cents US

TORONTO — Gains in the mining and metals sector helped lift Canada’s… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori delivers a speech after an opening plenary session of the three-party meeting on Tokyo 2020 Games additional costs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo, Friday, Dec 4, 2020. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics delay costs may reach $2.8 billion

TOKYO — The cost of the postponement for the Tokyo Olympics could… Continue reading

President-elect Joe Biden departs a news conference after introducing his nominees and appointees to economic policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Among first acts, Biden to call for 100 days of mask-wearing

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2013, file photo of A.P. Moller-Maersk’s oil rig in the North Sea named Halfdan. Denmark has decided to end to all oil and gas offshore activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round, saying the country is “now putting an end to the fossil era.” The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end the offshore gas and oil extraction that started in 1972 and has made it the largest producer in the European Union. (Claus Bonnerup/Polfoto via AP,file)
Denmark to end oil, gas extraction in North Sea

COPENHAGEN — Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas activities… Continue reading

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit was $3.8 billion in October as both exports and imports climbed higher. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Statistics Canada says merchandise trade deficit held stead in October at $3.8B

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit held steady… Continue reading

An employee works in a warehouse with dry ice outside at the Pfizer Manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. British officials on Wednesday authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, greenlighting the world’s first shot against the virus that’s backed by rigorous science and taking a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
UK defends vaccine decision amid criticism it moved too fast

LONDON — U.K. regulators went on the offensive Friday to beat back… Continue reading

Most Read