The mother of an 18-year-old man shot and killed by a West Virginia State Police trooper last week told a sheriff’s deputy four months ago that the trooper, who is their neighbor, was harassing her son.
On Thursday night in the Kegley area of Mercer County, just north of Princeton, Senior Trooper B.D. Gillespie shot Timothy Hill twice. Hill died of his wounds. A State Police news release said Hill had tried to disarm Gillespie.
“Oh, wow. I didn’t know that was the same kid,” Mercer Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Parks said Monday morning in a telephone interview.
Michelle Hill approached Parks outside the Mercer County Courthouse in March. “Something about motorcycles,” Parks recalled.
Gillespie had been mad at Timothy Hill because he had been riding his motorcycle down the street in front of his house, Michelle Hill said.
“I advised her she needed to talk to the sergeant in charge of the detachment, and if then she didn’t get any relief to go over his head and get a hold of the person over the division,” Parks said. “It’s a brotherhood, but we have separate rules. Me going to the troopers is kind of stepping over a line; it creates pretty bad animosity.
“If it were something serious, yeah, I would have taken it to my chief deputy, but she didn’t ask for that, she just wanted my opinion, she wasn’t saying, ‘I need help,’” Parks said.
Michelle Hill told the Gazette on Sunday evening that she was scared to report Gillespie to his supervisors. She thought it might make things worse for her son, who had bipolar disorder.
“I figured he would try to arrest him over something stupid once he turned 18, or try to beat him up,” Michelle Hill said. Timothy Hill turned 18 on May 14.
“That’s kind of what I was expecting. I didn’t know he was going to kill my son right in front of my house.”
Gillespie was awakened to the sound of his wife screaming that three men were in the couple’s driveway and tampering with their personal vehicle and Gillespie’s cruiser, according to a statement released by the State Police.
Dressed in his uniform, Gillespie went out in his police cruiser looking for the three men, according to the statement. He found the three men walking in the road about a quarter-mile from his house, police say.
Timothy Hill became belligerent, according to the statement, and refused to put his hands behind his back to be patted down. As Timothy Hill grew more combative, the two other men left.
Gillespie tried to take Timothy Hill into custody and charge him with obstructing, but his “combativeness increased and he began fighting” Gillespie, the statement reads.
Gillespie sprayed Timothy Hill with pepper spray and struck him with a baton, according to the statement. The two fell to the ground and Timothy Hill got on top of Gillespie, police say.
“A nearby resident witnessed the fight and went to help Senior Trooper Gillespie. At this time, all three men rolled into a deep culvert, where Hill attempted to disarm Senior Trooper Gillespie. Senior Trooper Gillespie was able to get control of his handgun and shot Timothy Hill two times, fatally wounding him,” the statement reads.
State Police Lt. Michael Baylous said Monday afternoon in a written response that State Police are investigating the incident. Information would be presented to Mercer Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash.
Gillespie is stationed in the Welch detachment and has worked as a trooper since 2011, Baylous said. He sustained minor injuries but wasn’t treated at a hospital.
Based upon information provided, Baylous said, Gillespie is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds. Hill was 5-foot-11 and weighed 185.
Clark “Casey” Crews, 52, has been staying at his aunt’s house for about three weeks, he said Sunday. He was out on the porch smoking a cigarette when he noticed blue lights flashing on the road.
“I don’t know if they slipped and fell, but Timmy was on top. I asked [the trooper] three or four times if he needed help. He said, ‘Get him off me.’ I grabbed Timmy’s arm and we all fell in the water,” Crews said. “Mace must have went off; I couldn’t really see. We continued to struggle. I saw the officer stand up. Timmy was still struggling. It happened so fast, I’m just glad I didn’t get shot.”
In a television interview Friday, Crews said that he started back up the hill when he saw the trooper stand up. “I figured everything was under control, and then I heard two gunshots,” Crews told television reporters.
On Sunday, however, Crews said the trooper never got Timothy Hill under control and that he saw Timothy Hill reach toward the officer’s belt.
“I could tell he was shaken up,” Crews said of Gillespie after the shooting. “He was just trying to take control. His life was being threatened, and since I was helping, I’m sure he thought my life was in danger too.”
Crews said he was frustrated police hadn’t been back to check on him since the incident. He was still in a lot of shock Sunday, he said.
“I’m sure that trooper is getting therapy, and not one has come to ask about me. I’m a little upset about that. Basically, I saved an officer’s life, and that should be worth something,” Crews said.
Crews didn’t know Timothy Hill, but his aunt, Mary Chambers, did.
“He was a real nice boy. … He cut my grass all last summer, and he came over and asked me how I am and I talked with him in the meantime when he wasn’t doing anything,” said Chambers, 72.
Chambers called Gillespie a “bully” and said he picks on people in their neighborhood on Kegley Trestle Road.
Chambers recalled the time that Gillespie complained when she paid people to clean up tree limbs and other debris in her yard.
“There was a pile where the trash goes, and after they got more trash, they were going to have it picked up and hauled off,” she said. Gillespie came by and told the people cleaning her yard that they had to have the pile picked up by 1 p.m., or he was going to fine them $250, Chambers said.
Michelle Hill said that Gillespie is also known in the neighborhood for yelling at teenagers for riding four-wheelers in the street.
“He sits with his radar gun on his own porch,” she said.
One day in March, Gillespie came to the Hills’ home to explain that Timothy Hill shouldn’t have his motorcycle anywhere but on a trail. Michelle Hill told her son to apologize to Gillespie, but first, she said, she asked the trooper why he and his wife had been taking videos and photographs of her son.
“He looked at me really mean and looked at where we keep our trash. ‘What about all that?’” Hill said Gillespie asked. “‘Ben, it’s trash day. You know they are picking up two weeks’ worth because of the snowstorm,’” Michelle Hill recalled.
Michelle Hill said he threatened to write them a ticket but never did.
Her son would often walk at night, she said. The medicine he took for bipolar disorder at times made him restless.
He was shy, known to avoid conflicts and would do anything for anybody, his mother said.
Dozens of community members have placed flowers around the area where he was shot, Michelle Hill said. “A lot of people I don’t even know,” she said.
“He was my only son,” she said, crying. “But he was a really good one.”
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.