Judge allows testimony about victim's mental illness in DeKalb police shooting trial

DeKalb County police say the 27-year-old ran towards Officer Robert Olsen and ignored commands to stop.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A DeKalb County judge ruled Monday that jurors in the trial of former Police Officer Robert "Chip" Olsen can hear limited testimony about the mental health history of the unarmed man he is charged with murdering.

The decision — a win for prosecutors — came as jury selection began in the trial. Olsen shot and killed Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran, in March 2015. Hill was off his medications and wandering his apartment complex  naked when he encountered Olsen.

Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson also ruled Monday that prosecutors can introduce evidence about DeKalb police's use of force policy. Defense attorney Don Samuel had argued Georgia's stand your ground law trumps county guidelines for its law enforcement officers and said Olsen should be treated as any other defendant would be.

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The underlying felony in the murder count against Olsen alleges he violated his oath of office by not following county policy when he shot Hill.

Dear Jackson said that testimony about Hill's mental illness will be allowed on a limited basis. The defense argued that evidence about Hill's mental illness is irrelevant to Olsen's guilt or innocence and could lead jurors to be overly sympathetic to the 27-year-old victim.

The state can ask witnesses if Hill had mental health issues. Questions about his medical discharge from the Air Force and about the medications he was prescribed — but had stopped taking before the day he died — will also be allowed.