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Department of Justice reviewing Mercer County teenager's fatal shooting by state trooper


CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing a West Virginia state trooper's fatal shooting of a Mercer County teenager.

The Charleston Gazette ( ) reported Friday that U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-3rd, contacted the department on behalf of one of his constituents.

"We are carefully reviewing all of the information provided . . . as well as additional materials," Vanita Gupta, acting assistant U.S. attorney general and leader of the Civil Rights Division wrote in a letter to Jenkins. "You can be assured that if the evidence shows that there was a prosecutable violation of any federal criminal civil rights statute, appropriate action will be taken."

Trooper B.D. Gillespie shot Hill after a brief struggle last June near Kegley. Gillespie said he shot Hill when the teenager reached for the trooper's gun.

A Mercer County grand jury declined to indict Gillespie in October.

The 1 a.m. confrontation that led to Hill's shooting concerned some wet underwear that two other boys had thrown on Gillespie's cruiser as a prank after they went swimming.

After Hill's death, Gillespie was placed on critical-incident leave for four days before returning to regular duty.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said his office works collaboratively with the Civil Rights Division on situations like this and said the review is "not out of the ordinary."

Lt. Michael Baylous, spokesman for the State Police, said the department has "not been contacted by any federal agency regarding this matter" and said Gillespie remains on regular duty.

Information from: The Charleston Gazette,

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