Death of Xzavier Hill sparks debate on state troopers wearing body cameras

Local News

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police continue to investigate the death of 18-year-old Xzavier Hill. The Charlottesville young man was shot and killed by VSP troopers on Interstate-64 in Goochland County, nearly three weeks ago.

The officer-involved shooting was recorded on police dash cam video not body camera video.

The death of the 18-year-old is sparking another debate, regarding Virginia State Police and body cameras.

A spokesperson for VSP shared with 8News on Wednesday that state troopers are not equipped with body cameras, but Hill’s mother, LaToya Benton, and community members want to see that change.

“There needs to be change, period!” said Benton. “When we say justice, we mean change!”

Chants for change have been ringing out across the area. In recent days, protesters have gathered at the Goochland County Courthouse, the hashtag #JusticeForXzavier is swirling online and “VSP Murdered Xzavier Hill! Release The Footage!” is now spray painted on the Beta Bridge in Charlottesville; all demanding the release of dash cam video.

The recorded video shows the moments leading up to Hill’s death on January 9. Around 4:30 a.m. Hill was speeding on I-64, according to state police. Troopers tried to pull him over, Hill accelerated to a high-rate of speed, eventually sliding down an embankment.

Police say when they tried to approach Hill, he flashed a gun and troopers shot him. However, Benton watched the dash cam video and is directly disputing what police say happened. Benton says her son was speeding and did accelerate once police turned their lights on, but says he was likely scared and trying to get to an area that was lit. She also says her son did not flash a gun at any time in the video, going on to say troopers murdered her son.

“I’m so sick of these cops, when they mess up saying ‘oh he had a gun’,” Benton said. “No, you killed my son and you need to go to jail. Release their names.”

The death of Hill has some questioning why state troopers are not wearing body cameras.

During a recent protest at the Goochland courthouse, one protester told 8News, he was also there to send a message to VSP, ‘that all troopers need body cameras’.

“That has to change immediately. We need full evidence and full transparency and we need to make sure that all accounts are seen,” a protester shared with 8News. “So one way or another we will be able to make sure that if what the officer said happened, happened that’s fine. But you not just going to keep being able to say that ‘he had a gun’ or ‘he pointed a gun’ and then they’re dead.”

Virginia State Police say troopers are not equipped with body cameras because they don’t have the infrastructure or funding to deploy them statewide.

State police troopers are not equipped with body cameras. State police does not have the infrastructure or funding to support full-time, statewide deployment of body cameras. As a result, we are only able to use the existing body cameras for temporary, event-incident driven assignments. 

Virginia State Police spokesperson

Virginia Senator Bill DeSteph is taking steps to change this. In the current General Assembly session, DeSteph is proposing one million dollars in the budget to expand access of body cameras to all state troopers.

DeSteph said, “I believe that the body cameras help tell a story of what happened at the scene or incident.”

Although Virginia State Police is investigating the case, the Goochland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Caudill will make the final decision on whether or not the troopers were just in their actions.

Caudill declined an on-camera interview request with 8News on Wednesday, but did say no third-party will be brought in to investigate and he will not be releasing the dash cam video until the investigation is complete.

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