US: Police officer fatally shoots African-American in Atlanta area

  • Reuters, San Fransisco
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2015 17:11 IST

An Atlanta area police officer fatally shot a naked and apparently unarmed African-American who was reportedly acting erratically at his apartment complex, authorities said.

Monday's shooting follows a string of incidents, including the slayings of unarmed black men by police in Missouri and New York City, that have put law enforcement across the US under heightened scrutiny over the use of lethal force, especially against minorities, the poor and the mentally ill.

An officer with the Dekalb County police responded to a caller who said a man was "acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked," around 1 p.m. local time, county police chief Cedric Alexander told reporters.

The officer, who was white, encountered the man in the parking lot of the complex without any clothes on, Alexander said according to a recording of the conference published online by local broadcaster Fox5. The man ran at the officer, who backed up and ordered the person to stop before shooting him twice, Alexander said.

Alexander said he could "reasonably assume" the person was possibly suffering from mental illness.

"We have already, as many departments have begun to do, look at how do we expand our mental health training," Alexander said.

"It appears that we're seeing more and more of these cases across the country in which police are engaging with those who may be in distress."

Alexander declined to identify the victim, but the New York Times reported that he was 27-year-old Anthony Hill. Alexander said the officer, who had been with the department for seven years, was equipped with a taser at the time of the shooting.

Hill is at least the third African-American since last Friday who was or appeared to be unarmed when killed by police.

Police near Denver last Friday fatally shot an unarmed man who was a wanted fugitive.

On the same day, an officer in Madison, Wisconsin fatally shot a biracial 19-year-old, prompting some 2,000 students to march in the state's capital on Monday.

Alexander said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would take over the probe of the incident.

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