FORMER DEKALB POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED IN SHOOTING DEATH OF UNARMED AIR FORCE VETERAN
State vs. Robert Olsen
Decatur, Ga.- Two and a half weeks after being convicted in connection with the shooting death of an unarmed Air Force veteran, former DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen, 57, has learned his fate. During a sentencing hearing before DeKalb County Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson Friday afternoon, Defendant Olsen was sentenced to 20 years to serve 12 with the balance on probation. The State had recommended a sentence of 30 years to serve 25 years in custody. Jurors returned guilty verdicts against him on October 14, 2019 on charges of Aggravated Assault, Violation of Oath by Public Officer (two counts), and Making a False Statement for actions resulting in the death of 26-year-old Anthony Hill.
The charges against Olsen stem from a fatal encounter with Hill on March 9, 2015. Police were summoned to the Heights of Chamblee Apartment Complex on Chamblee Tucker Road, where the victim lived, on a “Signal 22” or “demented person” call. Hill, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was off of his medication and in the midst of a mental health crisis. He was naked, behaving erratically, and ‘out of character’ as he knocked on doors, jumped around, and crawled on the ground.
Defendant Olsen was dispatched to the scene following several calls to 9-1-1. Upon arrival, he spotted Hill wandering around the complex, still unclothed and unarmed. As Olsen approached in his car, Hill began sloppily running towards the officer with his hands out in plain sight. Olsen exited the vehicle and pulled his gun. While backing away from Hill, Olsen shouted for the victim to stop. When Hill did not stop, Defendant Olsen shot twice, striking Anthony Hill once in the neck and once in the chest. Hill died at the scene.
During trial, the State introduced evidence that Defendant Olsen lied to the first responding officer on the scene following the shooting and claimed that the victim physically attacked him, forcing him to shoot in self-defense. Video evidence and eyewitness accounts contradict those claims. State experts also testified that by failing to employ the non-lethal resources available during his interaction with Mr. Hill, Olsen responded in a manner that was contrary to his 1,000+ hours of training and against department protocol.
An internal review board found that Officer Olsen used excessive force against Hill. He resigned in 2016 after being indicted by a DeKalb County Grand Jury.
“While we were hoping for a lengthier sentence, a measure of justice has been served today for Anthony Hill and his family,” said District Attorney Sherry Boston. “A uniform, badge, and gun are not a license to shoot with impunity. Robert Olsen had non-lethal options that he could have employed, but he made a different decision that day… one that cost a man his life. We are thankful he will be held accountable for his actions.”
The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Pete Johnson along with Major Case Director Lance Cross, and Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Buffy Thomas with assistance from Deputy Chief Investigator Steve Barresi. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted the preliminary investigation.