Virginia NAACP calls for criminal justice reform after gunshot death of Xzavier Hill, implicated by officer


GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – The Virginia NAACP is launching a campaign to call attention to law enforcement accountability and the need for independent investigations into shootings involving officers. The civil rights organization pointed to the shooting death of 18-year-old Xzavier Hill in January as an example.

The Commonwealth Attorney did not prosecute state soldiers involved in the shooting, and the Virginia NAACP has said it is asking Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Herring to take further action.

On January 9, state soldiers attempted to trigger a traffic stop on Interstate-64. State soldiers arrested 18-year-old Xzavier Hill around 4 a.m. According to Virginia State Police, Hill accelerated at a high speed and eventually slipped onto an embankment in Goochland County. State Police said Hill showed a gun and shot him.

Hill’s death sparked outrage and multiple protests and calls were made for dashcam footage of the incident to be made public. The findings of the criminal investigation have been turned over to the Goochland Commonwealth Prosecutor for a final review and decision. In February, the Commonwealth Prosecutor released the dashcam footage and the grand jury’s decision. The video has been uploaded for the public to view.

The grand jury ruled that “the officers’ actions were justified in the use of lethal force and the criminal charges against the two Virginia state police officers involved are not justified.”

Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, said the organization had met with the governor several times since March to discuss police brutality and traffic checks.

“We demand that the governor act on this particular issue because so many people have lost their lives in tragic incidents with police shootings,” Barnette said.

The civil rights organization said it was seeking three actions from Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring – First, that both elected officials exercise their authority, said in the Virginia Code 2.2-511, to ask Attorney General Herring to investigate and prosecute law enforcement over shootings in Commonwealth Circuit Courts.

In addition, the NAACP wants the governor to implement the policies of the Virginia Compensation Board and the Criminal Justice Services Board that provide financial incentives for local law enforcement agencies to adopt policing standards that give priority to training, certification and responsibility. The group wants this to build on the model of standards and transparency being developed with the state police.

Finally, they call on the governor to leverage the Virginia Compensation Commission and the Criminal Justice Services Commission to ensure that local law enforcement officers prioritize reviewing its policing standards so that they can become a model of accountability, transparency and culturally appropriate policing practices for other law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth.

Xzavier Hill’s mother LaToya Benton told 8News she was battling a tumor even before her son was killed by Virginia state police earlier this year. Benton said she had been in constant contact with Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, even showing up there in person with her sister and Xzavier’s aunt, Latonya Snow.

“Either you fight for your children or you cry. You don’t have the option of doing both, ”Benton said.

According to Benton, the family have not been asked what they need and feel ignored.

“A press conference doesn’t turn me on,” Benton said. “I did it the right way. I sent letters. I sent emails.

“We need to let anyone running for office now know that they shouldn’t feel safe and comfortable running for office without reaching out to these families,” said Japharii Jones, founder of Black Lives Matter 757, who demonstrated in Goochland. County after Hill’s death. “They can’t say they don’t have contact. These mothers cry every night.

However, Benton said she agreed with the Virginia NAACP on the need for a policy change.

“I don’t want a vacation. I don’t want a street. I don’t want a plate. My son doesn’t need a statue. We need a policy change, ”Benton said.

Barnette called the claims “a step in the right direction”.

“It will begin to build trust and accountability in our black and brown communities,” she said. “We need to trust law enforcement when they enter our communities to make sure they are effective policing.”

The governor’s office said it would continue to work with the NAACP.

“Governor Northam is proud to have worked hand in hand with the NAACP and other partners to push through sweeping criminal justice reform over the past two years, and we look forward to continuing that work.”

Alena Yarmosky, Senior Communications Advisor
Office of Governor Ralph Northam

The attorney general’s office also said its work, together with the NAACP, continues.

“Attorney General Herring has long believed that investigations into shootings involving officers should be managed by independent and unaffiliated agencies in order to maximize public confidence in the objectivity of an investigation and its results. Last spring, Attorney General Herring announced that he and the Virginia NAACP were launching a collaborative effort to identify and help implement reforms to how the Commonwealth of Virginia and its law enforcement agencies deal with gunshot deaths involving officers, and this work continues. . “

Charlotte pl gomer
Communication director
Attorney General’s Office

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