A group of protesters marched along state Route 6 to the Goochland County Courthouse on Friday afternoon, demanding justice for 18-year-old Xzavier Hill, who was fatally shot two weeks ago by state police after a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 64.
A lengthy video posted by protesters on the Facebook account Blacklivesmatter757 showed a peaceful march. Demonstrators blocked the flow of traffic as they walked along the central corridor of Goochland’s business district and seat of government. The county’s elementary, middle and high schools delayed dismissal of students during the protest out of an abundance of caution.
The protesters chanted “Justice now!,” “Black Lives Matter!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, these racist cops have got to go!” as they demanded authorities release a copy of a police dashcam video of the Jan. 9 police pursuit and shooting along westbound I-64 in Goochland. Police said Hill was shot after he displayed a gun.
The Goochland Sheriff’s Office estimated that about 100 people took part in Friday’s protest.
“It was basically peaceful as far as there were no injuries to anybody and there were no arrests made,” said Cpl. Palmer Clifford, a Goochland Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. “Once it all concluded, it was determined that one vehicle had minor damage to it. But overall it was peaceful.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney D. Michael Caudill allowed members of Hill’s family to view the police video last week, and indicated he may make the video public during a later stage of the investigation.
Hill’s mother, LaToya Benton, says she did not see a gun in her son’s hand and that he had placed his left hand outside his car window after being commanded to show his hands. She said she also heard him say, “Ok, my door is open,” moments before he was shot.
State police said they pursued Hill as he topped speeds of 120 mph and, at the end of the chase, Hill attempted to make a U-turn on the interstate to elude them. But police said his car slid down an embankment into the median. Two state troopers approached and repeatedly gave Hill commands to get out of the car and raise his hands before he displayed a firearm and was shot, according to the police account.
Police found a gun inside Hill’s Mercedes-Benz; his mother said she was told that the firearm had been reported stolen and was “jammed.”
At the time of the pursuit, Hill’s license to drive was suspended, and he had two outstanding warrants for his arrest for failing to appear in Madison County General District Court on a suspended license charge.
Before the Goochland demonstration, protesters gathered in the parking lot of a business in the 8000 block of West Broad Street in Henrico County for a “Release the Tapes” rally, following a memorial service for the young man at a local funeral home.
Caudill, who is reviewing evidence and reports, is responsible as Goochland’s chief law enforcement official for deciding whether the troopers’ actions were justified. If not, they could be held criminally liable.