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Ex-Officer Who Shot Naked, Mentally Ill Black Veteran Wants Case Dismissed on a Technicality

CBS46 News

The former Atlanta police officer charged with murdering a mentally ill Black man is pushing to have his indictment thrown out.

According to the Associated Press, lawyers for ex-officer Robert Olsen argued Friday that the court violated grand jury secrecy by allowing extra, unnecessary people to be present during the proceeding. Thus, the case against Olsen should be dismissed.

The disgraced cop was indicted in January 2016 for the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Anthony Hill, a U.S. Air Force veteran who suffered from mental health issues. The former officer pleaded not guilty to the crime in June.

Don Samuel, Olsen’s defense attorney, asserted that the extra individuals in the room — an expert witness, court reporter and several others from the district attorney’s office — may have prevented grand jurors from asking questions throughout the hearing.

“It was like a circus at times,” Samuel said.

The attorney doesn’t suspect anyone purposely tried to intimidate the panel of jurors, however.

Prosecutor Chris Timmons countered Samuel’s argument, charging that such a complicated case involving the prosecution of a police officer required extra prosecutors and investigators to ensure the efficient presentation of evidence.

In addition, Timmons said it isn’t common for grand jurors to be pressured into indicting police officers. The process is already difficult enough on its own. However, the prosecutor argued that a unique Georgia statue allowing officers on trial for use of force to be present during grand jury proceedings could inadvertently incline jurors to indict said officer. Under the statue, officers are also shielded from questions by prosecutors and grand jurors, the Associated Press reports.

Taking all these things into consideration, Timmons maintained that throwing out the indictment on the basis of a grand jury secrecy stipulation wasn’t the way to go. He argued that grand jury secrecy was initially put in place to protect prosecutors, their investigations and their eyewitnesses.

According to AP, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge J.P. Boulee will do some more research on the matter before ruling on the defense’s request.

Olsen shot and killed Hill on March 9, 2015 after receiving a call about an oddly behaving naked man roaming around a Dekalb County apartment complex. The slain man’s family said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was likely having a manic episode at the time.

Witnesses called 911 as a naked Hill was seen hanging from a balcony and later writhing around on the ground. As officers worked to subdue him, Olsen claimed Hill tried to attack him. That’s when he fired two shots at the Air Force veteran, killing him.

Hill’s family is still seeking justice.

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