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When veteran heard cops were coming, he said 'they're my friend.' But the cop who responded, killed him

The murder trial for a former police officer is underway.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Moments before he would be shot and killed by a police officer, a naked, unarmed Air Force veteran said he was happy that 911 was called, that he needed help.

"Good, the police are my friends," Anthony Hill said in that moment, according to DeKalb County prosecutor Buffy Thomas.

The officer who responded on March 9, 2015, Robert Olsen, is now on trial for murder in Hill's death. In opening arguments on the first day of the trial Thursday, Thomas characterized Hill as an Afghanistan veteran who suffered from PTSD and other mental health issues who was experiencing a moment of crisis and clearly posed no threat.

Olsen's defense argued Hill rushed him and gave him just six or seven seconds to react.

TRIAL PREVIEW: Trial begins for former DeKalb Police officer accused of killing naked, unarmed veteran

"Anthony Hill had his hands up, his arms up as he's running," Thomas argued. "And then his arms were by his side, hands visible, he was stark naked, he had no clothes on, nowhere to hide a weapon, no weapon in his hand, he never uttered a word as he's running toward the officer."

Defense attorney Don Samuel countered that Olsen acted defensively and cautiously throughout the incident.

"He doesn't yell at Mr. Hill, he doesn't give him orders, doesn't scream at him to get down, put your hands behind your back, nothing like that," Samuel said. "He just keeps the situation calm, waiting for backup, no blue lights, no orders, no contact at all."

Samuel characterized Olsen as being "scared to death" in a situation where he had none of the context - military service, mental health issues - that explained Hill's behavior.

"Here he's been summoned in a hurry, get there, people are scared," Samuel said. "He gets out of his car and this man is running at him naked."

"And he pulls out his gun and he points and he yells, 'Stop! Stop!' And he doesn't stop. He doesn't even slow down," Samuel added.

He said, in fact, one witness will testify that it appeared Hill was "attacking" Olsen. Thomas, however, said Olsen did not tell GBI investigators in an interview that he was even fearful of Hill.

"He never tells them he was afraid. He never tells them he was scared of Anthony Hill," she said. "He never says he tried to attack me. He never says he threatened me. He never says he tried to take my weapon. He never says I thought he was going to take my weapon. He never says that he feared for his safety. He never says he feared for his life."

"Not once did the words fear, afraid, scared, attack, threaten, pass this man's lips," she added.

Instead, she said, Olsen was merely "uncomfortable."

"He wasn't afraid, he was uncomfortable with this naked man running at him and because he was uncomfortable, his actions in using deadly force were unnecessary," she argued. "Not only were they unnecessary, they were unreasonable and they were unjustified."

"And unfortunately they cannot be undone," she added.

She said it began with two leasing office workers at his apartment complex, The Heights in Chamblee, coming upon him laying face down outside the office wearing only shorts.

He then popped up, "jumping up and down and acting excited," asking to be let into the office.

The women, who Thomas said were familiar with Hill as a resident of the complex, were concerned because they hadn't seen him act like that before, and "weren't sure if he was sick or if he was on drugs or what was going on with him, but certainly it was strange."

That led to the first of three 911 calls. Two maintenance men then showed up, and one brought Hill back to his apartment.

"He goes inside his apartment and he says a few strange things, he's asking for help, he tells Pedro that the devil is coming, he mentions his mom and says he loves his mommy," Thomas said. "He's just behaving, again, rather oddly."

Just as the moment appeared settled, Hill reemerged from the apartment naked. That was when a second 911 call was made.

The prosecutor said there were videos from this stretch that show Hill had a passive, if erratic, demeanor at the time.

"He's not being aggressive, he's walking around, he's crawling around, he's hanging from balconies, he's hanging on railings," Thomas said. "I believe one of the witnesses will testify 'it appeared he was free.'"

The third call was made to 911 to ask when police would arrive, incidentally just as Olsen was pulling onto the scene. Thomas said between witness accounts, videos of the scene and Olsen's interview with investigators, the jury would see no alternative but to find the former officer guilty.

"Ladies and gentlemen, while y'all cannot undo what the defendant did on March 9, 2015, y'all can certainly hold him accountable by finding him guilty," she concluded.

Samuel said, instead, the case is about a moment that happened in an instant and was fundamentally unpredictable.

"Chip Olsen had to react to what any person would view as being imminent use of violence or force against him," Samuel argued. "How does a human being react in six or seven seconds?"

"You may conclude that he reacted not in the best way... that he could have done something else, in hindsight - 'Monday morning quarterback' - but you will not conclude that he is guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt."

Before the case, Atlanta attorney Latonia Hines told 11Alive's Becky Kellogg that this trial will require jurors to make a difficult choice between two men, both of whom wore uniforms to risk their lives to protect others.

They will now begin to weigh that choice.


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