Anthony Hill was naked, making it clear he did not have a weapon, and obviously mentally disturbed, based on his behavior. But he was gunned down nonetheless Monday by a white police officer just outside of Atlanta who said Hill charged him at an apartment complex.
Although Robert Olsen, a seven-year DeKalb County officer, had a Taser in his possession at the time, he instead fired two bullets into Hill, 27, killing him.
And so, the rash of Black men dying at the hands of law enforcement continues, even as the nation’s awareness of such violations has reached a fever pitch.
Witnesses said Hill had been walking around the complex nude and was captured on cellphone video hanging from a balcony and crawling on the ground. Neighbors called 911 in the hopes of corralling the obviously troubled man.
Instead, he’s dead. Olsen said he was attacked by Hill and, while backing up, fired two shots.
Witnesses, however, said Hill never charged the officer. They said the officer “thought” Hill would attack.
Oscar Perez, through an interpreter, told Atlanta TV station WSB: “The man, he was like drugged, but he was naked and he was crawling. I think the officer thought he was going to attack, so he shot him.”
That language could be telling. Cedric Alexander of DeKalb County Public Safety said the officer was equipped with a Taser, which would have incapacitated the man, who then could have received treatment.
Two bullets killed him on the scene. Alexander said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will conduct an inquiry.
One of the questions that will be examined during the GBI investigation is whether the officer could have used a lesser, alternative method of force to subdue the man.
“Yes, he was equipped with all the appropriately issued police equipment, including a Taser,” Alexander said. The chief said the officer also had pepper spray at his disposal.
Alexander said he could “reasonably assume” the person was possibly suffering from mental illness, given his behavior.
The officer involved will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, Alexander said.
This is at least the third African-American man to be shot dead by police since last Friday, who either was or seemed unarmed. In many of the recent cases, it appeared as if police need more training in how to deal with mentally disturbed individuals.
DeKalb County police have already faced protests after an officer shot dead a Black man who had called 911 when his girlfriend was stabbed by an attacker in his apartment late last year.