One-Time Detroit ‘Super Cop’ Gil Hill Dies Of Lung Disease, Famed Crime Fighter Never Shook Murder Cover-Up Claims

Former glitzy Detroit homicide cop, city council president, Mayoral candidate and Hollywood actor Gil Hill died of respiratory failure this week in a Detroit hospital at 84 years old. In the end, Hill’s legacy is as controversial as his tenure in the public eye was high profile. Some have alleged Hill took a payoff to stymie a murder investigation in the spring of 1985 – he always sternly denied the allegation. The accidental fatal shooting of a 13-year old boy named Damion Lucas, tragically and unwittingly caught in the crosshairs of a gangland dispute involving his uncle, remains unsolved to this very day. According to multiple people familiar with Hill personally, he openly blamed the rumors, claims and innuendo related to his handling (or non-handling) of the Lucas case on him not being elected Mayor.

Born in Alabama and raised in Washington D.C., Hill landed in the Motor City while serving in the military and stationed at Selfridge Air Force base. Following his discharge from duty in the Air Force, he stayed in the Detroit area, first joining the Wayne County Sherriff’s Department and then the Detroit Police Department. He made detective in 1969 and quickly established himself as the DPD’s No. 1 crime-stopper, breaking a number of big cases and garnering a considerable amount of attention from the press for his prowess busting bad guys (dubbed “Super Cop” in one newspaper article). In 1982, he was promoted to inspector and commander of the DPD Homicide Division.

Hill gained pop-culture infamy as Eddie Murphy’s cantankerous police superior in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, appearing in all three films (1984, 1987, 1994). Murphy’s Axel Foley character in the financially-successful trilogy is a wisecracking Detroit cop often finding himself in L.A. solving crimes instead of Motown.

Leaving the DPD in 1989 – in the wake of a demotion -, he ran for and won a seat on the Detroit City Council, eventually rising to president in 1997. His bid for Mayor of Detroit failed, as he lost the 2001 election to the currently-imprisoned Kwame Kilpatrick (serving 28 years for racketeering conviction connected to his behavior in office as the so-called “Hip-Hop Mayor”).

The real tarnish on Hill’s resume relates to the questions surrounding his possible illegal squashing of the probe into the Lucas slaying. And his links to a convicted felon and Eastside Detroit drug lord tied, at least tangentially, into the Mayor’s office.

Thirteen-old Damion Lucas was killed in a drive-by shooting on April 29, 1985, the unintended victim of an attack allegedly targeting his uncle, local dope boy Leon Lucas, who is reporting to have fell out with Motown drug kingpin Johnny Curry in the weeks prior over hotel reservations and tickets to the April 15, 1985 pro boxing match pitting Detroiter Thomas (Tommy the Hit Man) Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in Las Vegas, which Lucas allegedly promised to provide for Curry and his entourage, but failed to deliver.

At that time, Curry was married to then-Mayor of Detroit’s niece Cathy Volsan. Per those once close to Volsan, she referred to Hill as “Uncle Gil.”

Upon returning to Michigan following Hagler’s Rd. 3 knockout of Detroit’s favorite son Hit Man Hearns at Caesar’s Palace, Curry marked Lucas for death and per federal informants, sent a squad of assassins to his house in Northwesr Detroit to kill him in a drive-by shooting in the forthcoming weeks. While Leon Lucas avoided the fusillade of bullets shot into his living room because he wasn’t present, his nephew Damion wasn’t so lucky and died as a result of the injuries sustained.

Illegal underage informant turned teenage drug dealer Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe told his handlers in the government that Curry told him of presenting Hill with a payoff to look the other way in the Lucas murder investigation. Wershe was just 15 when he provided the intelligence, literally recruited into a life of crime out of the eighth grade a little less than a year previous by a federal drug task force focusing on narcotics activity in his Detroit neighborhood and put to work on Uncle Sam’s coin.

Curry was convicted in a federal drug case three years later and served 12 years in prison. The 46-year old Wershe was convicted in a 1988 on a cocaine-possession arrest he incurred during the course of a routine traffic stop in May 1987 when he was only 17 and remains behind bars today with no foreseeable release date. There are those of the belief that Wershe’s cooperation in the Lucas inquiry and his knowledge of the alleged Curry-Hill bribe is one of the main reasons he’s still fighting for his freedom after almost 30 years of incarceration.

Vince Wade’s Informant America blog breaks down the Lucas murder here.


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