DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston says she stands ready to proceed with the prosecution of former DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen in the wake of Superior Court Judge J.P. Boulee's recusal from the case.
Boston said that once the case has been reassigned to a different judge, “we will ask that it be immediately set for trial on its previously scheduled date of February 25, 2019.”
Boulee, who has been nominated for a federal judgeship, did not provide a specific basis for recusal in his Feb. 11 Order of Recusal, but quoting Georgia Codes of Judicial Conduct, he said that judges must disqualify themselves from a case in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
“Judges should not only avoid impropriety, but even the appearance of impropriety,” he wrote. "After considering these mandates, and in an abundance of caution, this Court voluntarily recuses itself from the above referenced case."
The Olsen case was to have started in two weeks.
Boulee’s recusal came after questions were raised about a $1,000 donation he made to Boston’s fourth annual Love Run 5K to benefit the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence.
The donation made him a sponsor of the event and a logo from his campaign website was included on the event flyer below Boston’s photo.
Olsen, who is white, was indicted in January 2016 for shooting and killing Anthony Hill, a black naked and unharmed man who was mentally ill on March 9, 2015, when he answered a call about a nude man wandering the grounds of the Heights at Chamblee apartments at 3028 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.
Hill’s family says he had a bad reaction to medication he was taking for post-traumatic stress.
Olsen has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in June 2016. He told police investigators that he fired his weapon at Hill, 27, out of fear for his life. But a grand jury, citing contradictions in his story, indicted Olsen on felony murder and several other charges.
Boulee was assigned to the case in September 2016.
Hill supporters have been calling for a speedy trial for Olsen since September 2016.
Boston said that she has spoken with Hill's family and notified them of this development.
“They are understandably devastated,” she said. “And while we, too, are dismayed by this action, we are not deterred.”
Boston said that she plans to file a motion seeking a hearing detailing the specific reasoning for Boulee’s recusal and clarification as to whether such recusal extends to all cases assigned to him.
In the interim, once the case has been reassigned to a different judge, she said she will ask that it be immediately set for trial on its previously scheduled date of Feb. 25.
“The State stands ready to proceed in the interest of justice for this family who has waited four long years for their day in Court,” Boston said.