October 14, 2019 / 8:45 PM / a month ago

Georgia policeman convicted of assault, cleared of murder in 2015 shooting of unarmed black man

(Reuters) - A former Georgia police officer who shot an unarmed, naked black man to death in March 2015 was convicted on Monday of aggravated assault and violating his oath of office but found not guilty of murder, his defense lawyer said.

Robert “Chip” Olsen, 57, who resigned from the Dekalb County Police Department following his indictment, was also found guilty of making false statements, defense attorney Don Samuel told Reuters by phone.

“We are incredibly relieved and delighted the jury found him not guilty of murder, and unanimously found him not guilty of murder,” Samuel said.

Prosecutors said Olsen shot and killed Anthony Hill, a 26-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran who had served in Afghanistan, in the parking lot of his Atlanta apartment complex. Hill, who was nude and acting erratically, suffered from bipolar disorder and was having a manic episode, his family has said.

The shooting drew wide attention amid heightened criticism of deadly force used by police, particularly against minorities.

Olsen has said that Hill was coming at him in a hostile, threatening manner and disobeyed commands to stop. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported that Olsen had turned down a plea agreement calling for a 20-year prison term.

Olsen’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 when he faces a maximum sentence of 35 years behind bars.

Samuel said he would likely ask Olsen be given probation because of his clean record as a police officer and no prior offenses.

Dekalb County Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson ordered the ex-police officer freed on $800,000 bond pending sentencing, over the objections of prosecutors who urged that he be taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.

A Dekalb County District Attorney’s Office spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters on the verdict, which followed a five-day trial and six days of jury deliberations.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing By Grant McCool

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