- Associated Press - Monday, June 6, 2016

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - A white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, naked, mentally ill black veteran just outside Atlanta pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges against him.

Robert Olsen shot Anthony Hill on March 9, 2015, while responding to a call about a naked man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex. He was indicted in January on numerous charges, including felony murder and has since resigned from the force.

Olsen appeared in DeKalb County Superior Court on Monday and waived formal arraignment. His attorney Don Samuel told the judge his client pleads not guilty.

Samuel and Olsen left the courtroom immediately after entering the not guilty plea and declined to make any further comment.

Hill’s family has said he was a U.S. Air Force veteran who struggled with mental health problems. Tensions between police and minorities have risen across the country in the aftermath of a series of shootings mostly involving white law enforcement officers and unarmed African-American males. Critics in Hill’s case, including his family, have focused more on his mental health and whether force should have been used at all because he was unarmed.

Olsen was indicted on two counts each of felony murder and violating his oath of office and one count each of aggravated assault and making a false statement.

Hill’s mother, Carolyn Giummo stood outside the courthouse after the hearing, flanked by her daughter and her son’s girlfriend. About two dozen supporters, including many who packed the courtroom for the hearing, stood behind Giummo and chanted on the courthouse steps after she left.

Giummo said she traveled to Georgia from her home in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, for the hearing to let Olsen and the public know she wants justice for her son.

“It’s the first step to justice,” Giummo said of the brief hearing. “We still have a long way to go, but it is the first step to justice.”

Giummo said she wants Olsen held accountable for his actions and that she thinks police should be better trained to deal with mentally ill people.

Hill’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in November against the DeKalb County Police Department, Olsen, the county and its board of commissioners. That case is still pending.

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