Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 14, 2014

Man dies fighting trooper

KEGLEY — A state police trooper shot and fatally wounded a Mercer County man following a struggle with the suspect — who had attempted to disarm the trooper — in a deep culvert near the Kegley community, investigators said Friday.

The incident began late Thursday night when Senior Trooper B.D. Gillespie of the West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment was awakened by his wife who was screaming at three men in their driveway who were tampering with their personal vehicle and Gillespie's cruiser, according to First Sgt. J.C. Powers of the West Virginia State Police.

Powers said Gillespie, in his Class A uniform and cruiser, began looking for the subjects. Powers said Gillespie eventually located the three subjects walking in the roadway, approximately a quarter mile from his residence in Mercer County. At that point, Powers said Gillespie began questioning the three subjects about tampering with the vehicles and the three subjects gave conflicting stories about what happened at the Gillespie residence.  

Upon further inquiry, Powers said Timothy Hill, 18, of Kegley, became belligerent and refused to comply with lawful commands made in the interest of safety, which included placing his hands behind his back to be patted down for officer safety.

Powers said the other two subjects left when Hill became combative. Powers said Gillespie attempted to take Hill into custody for obstructing, but Hill's combativeness increased and he began fighting with the trooper.

During the fight, Powers said Gillespie sprayed Hill with capstun (pepper spray) and struck him with a closed ASP baton. Gillespie and Hill then fell to the ground, where Hill got on top of the trooper, Powers said. At that point, a nearby resident witnessed the fight and went to help Gillespie. Powers said all three men then rolled into a deep culvert where Hill attempted to disarm Gillespie. Powers said Gillespie was able to get control of his handgun and shot Hill two times, fatally wounding the man.

Powers said the incident remains under investigation. Powers said he didn’t think Gillespie was injured as a result of the incident.

As part of the ongoing investigation, Powers said investigators will attempt to locate the other two men who fled the scene and interview them. However, the two men had not been located as of Friday afternoon.

“I’m sure the investigators will question them if they know how to find them,” Powers said.

Powers said investigators also are working to confirm the exact time line of events. He said the culvert where the three men rolled into was located a quarter of a mile from Gillespie’s residence in Mercer County.

Powers said there were no other known injuries associated with the incident.

Gillespie, 39, is a Mercer County native who has been with the West Virginia State Police since 2011. He worked in the coal mining industry in McDowell County before becoming a trooper.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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