PTSD and poor policing to blame for veteran Anthony Hill’s death

Anthony Hill, center, served in the Air Force in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Anthony Hill's family

An unfortunate case of poor policing is associated in the death of disabled Air Force and Afghan war veteran Anthony Hill who died at the hands of DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen back in March 2015.

Hill, 27, died in the street, naked, afraid, and “having a manic episode of some type” when a neighbor who knew him encouraged him to go inside and “saw a blankness in his eyes as Anthony mumbled how sorry he was”, according to a report.

Hill had been medically discharged from service in April 2013. He was diagnosed with PTSD and Bi-Polar Disorder. According to his mother, Carolyn Baylor-Giummo, Hill was undergoing treatment and was having problems with the medication he was prescribed by the VA. His girlfriend later reported that he had stopped taking his medication.

The shooting took place on a Monday afternoon after a neighbor called police to report Hill’s erratic speech and seeing him naked on his balcony. Another neighbor tried to calm him and talk to him but he was visibly upset and would not stay still. He ignored neighbors’ suggestions to go home and put clothes on.

When Officer Robert Olsen responded to the call, Hill was fatally shot twice in the torso without any conversation according to an eyewitness at the apartment complex where Hill resided. Other witnesses have said Hill was only walking toward the officer and clearly did not have any weapons.

Community members, Hill’s family, and his girlfriend of 3-years Bridget Anderson, all describe Hill as a good friend and neighbor, a kind hearted man, a talented vocalist, a beloved son and brother, and he would eventually have become a loving husband. On the day he died, Anderson Tweeted, “I thought cops were supposed to protect and serve???? THEY TOOK THE LOVE OF MY LIFE AWAY!!!!! #atlanta”.

The family has filed a wrongful death law-suit in conjunction with the case which is scheduled to go before the grand jury at the end of the month following a civil grand jury in October that was unable to reach consensus on the officer being at fault. The DA’s office is continuing the investigation according to local 11Alive News in Decatur.

Moving the high profile case forward, Dekalb County District Attorney, Robert James, announced that on Jan. 21 he will be presenting two counts of felony murder; aggravated assault; two counts of violation of an oath by an officer; and making a false statement before a grand jury against Officer Robert Olsen.

This case draws greater attention to many issues facing veterans today including poor care at most of the US’s aging and outdated VA Medical Centers, poor management of mental health care for veterans with PTSD and other mental illnesses, and  lack of police training that leads to the use of extreme force in cases that clearly do not demand it.

 

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Author

  • Penny M. Polokoff-Kreps earned her BA in Sociology from Queens College of the City University of New York. She is a published author, speaker, FL Supreme Court mediator, and a Guardian ad Litem. She runs a non-profit with her husband, a Vietnam veteran, providing nutritional supplements for veteran cancer survivors, and supporting veterans in obtaining service dogs. She is passionate about veteran's issues especially those related to PTSD and mental health.

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