RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– The mother of a young man who was shot and killed by Virginia State Police in January of 2021 is suing the officers involved.
LaToya Benton is the mother of 18-year-old Xzavier Hill, who was shot and killed by state troopers following a car chase last year. This morning, Benton drafted and filed a wrongful death lawsuit without an attorney in response to the death of her son.
“I grieve every day because of my son’s violence that he suffered at the hands of the police,” Benton said.
According to court documents, Benton is asking for more than $60 million in damages against the Virginia state troopers involved in the shooting death of Hill, Seth Layton and Benjamin Bone. She is also asking for $350,000 in punitive damages.
“I’m just fighting for my son. Even filing a civil lawsuit, that’s not necessarily justice,” Benton said. “It’s more so trying to hold someone accountable for what happened to my child. Someone’s going to be held accountable for what happened to Xzavier.”
Hill was shot and killed by Virginia State Police in January 2021 in Goochland County. Authorities said Hill led troopers on a high-speed chase ending in a ditch alongside I-64.
Dash cam video shows two officers speaking to the driver. Police said Hill refused to get out of the car and claimed he was reaching for a gun before troopers fired.
In 2021, a grand jury did not indict Layton or Bone in the shooting and said they were justified in using excessive force. They were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
“We are no longer going to lay down and let people say to us that he had a gun in the car. We live in an open carry state,” Benton said.
According to Benton, she drafted the lawsuit herself and said at least five attorneys that she reached out to, wouldn’t take the case. Last fall, her attorney Jacqueline Kramer said she was unable to bring forward a civil lawsuit with the information she had.
Benton told 8news, she believes she didn’t need a lawyer to file the wrongful death lawsuit.
She said she has spent over $14,000 in legal fees to fight for her son’s case.
In November, there was a hearing that granted Benton the right to have officers answer questions surrounding his death. A judge allowed her to submit 39 of her 59 questions to the officers and they were required to file a written response. At the time she was also seeking a civil suit against Seth Layton and Benjamin Bone, the VSP troopers involved in the shooting.
8news’ legal analyst Russ Stone said it’s a difficult case to prove.
“They have to decide whether or not they feel they have enough of the case to overcome qualified immunity and then prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the officers were either negligent or engaging in some sort of official misconduct at the time of the shooting,” Stone said.
According to Stone, if this were to go in front of a jury, it could take a matter of years to get a resolution. Stone said the good news for the family is that they don’t have to prove as much in comparison to a criminal case.
However, he said it’s not a good sign that Hill’s family is moving ahead without representation. The defendants will have to respond.
8news reached out to Virginia State Police for a comment and received the following response:
“VSP does not comment on pending litigation.”Corinne N. Geller
Public Relations Director
Virginia State Police