ATLANTA – The shooting death of an unarmed, black, naked man by a white police officer in an Atlanta suburb prompted a social media outcry on Tuesday over what many people deemed to be unnecessary force against someone who may have been in mental distress.
The death of Anthony Hill, 27, at an apartment complex in DeKalb County on Monday afternoon is the latest in a string of killings of unarmed black men by police in the United States.
DeKalb County police Chief Cedric Alexander told reporters it appeared Hill was grappling with some type of mental health issue when police received a call about a man “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked.”
Alexander said Hill ran toward a responding officer, who ordered Hill to stop before shooting him twice. Hill died at the scene, where police found no sign of a weapon, the chief said.
Hundreds of people took to Twitter to voice their frustration over the shooting using the hashtags #AnthonyHill and #BlackLivesMatter.
Hill had used the latter hashtag himself in the days before his death.
“The key thing to remember is, #blacklivesmatter, ABSOLUTELY, but not moreso than any other life,” he wrote on his Facebook page on March 6.
In another post the same day, he said, “No man (or woman) is ever going to stop me from living the life I envision…Empower yourself. Show these kids that #blacklivesmatter by living yours like it does.”
His final Facebook post, written about five hours before he died, said: “Where i once saw death i only see life.”
It was not immediately clear what prompted Hill to shed his clothes and behave erratically soon after, including jumping off his second-floor apartment balcony just before police arrived, according to the incident report.
The officer who shot Hill, a seven-year veteran of the force identified by police as Robert Olsen, has been placed on administrative leave.
Alexander told reporters his department was looking at ways to better equip officers to deal with situations involving mentally ill people.
He said the agency turned over the shooting investigation to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in an effort to be transparent and fair to everyone involved.
Hill is at least the third African-American man since Friday who either was or appeared to be unarmed when shot dead by police.