The recent news about a young veteran who had mental health problems and was found running naked in his apartment complex, who the police shot, has the attention of many Georgia residents, especially me. You probably have read or seen the story on the news. Anthony Hill was a 27 year old U.S. Veteran who had known mental health problems, including bipolar disorder. He was found running naked around his apartment complex knocking on doors. He had done no harm to anyone. He was obviously unarmed as he was naked! Witnesses indicate Mr. Hill was about 180 feet away from the DeKalb County police officer who ultimately shot him when the officer first encountered Mr. Hill. The DeKalb County police officer, like every other police officer, was armed with a taser. For unknown reasons, the officer pulled his gun instead and shot Mr. Hill. Mr. Hill died.
As far as I have seen in news reports, Mr. Hill had violated no law (except maybe public decency?), had harmed no one, had not touched the police officer, had not resisted arrest…in short had done absolutely nothing to justify being killed at the hands of a DeKalb County police officer. Is this excessive force? Absolutely! Is it a crime? Yes, I think it is. This conduct, shooting a totally innocent, obviously unarmed man rises to the level of a crime, manslaughter perhaps, and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office should seek an indictment. And if you don’t think for a minute that Mr. Hill could have been you or your loved one, you need to think again.
What is going on with police forces lately? There seems to have been a rash of unjustified shootings of innocent, unarmed people. Some of these shootings are race-related, for sure. But there doesn’t seem (at least right now) to be a racial issue involved with the shooting of Mr. Hill. What was involved was the patently obvious lack of appropriate training of police officers on how to deal with a person who is exhibiting signs of a psychotic break or mental instability.