West Valley detective in fatal shooting also focus of credibility investigation
Police union wants D.A. to recuse himself for 'inappropriate' actions
"We expect a full and complete exoneration for these officers once the district attorney is able to review and assess the facts in this tragic matter."
Salt Lake police investigators were asked by West Valley investigators to look at four of their criminal cases in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. During the course of that investigation, it became evident to Gill and his prosecutors that they could no longer prove 19 other cases beyond a reasonable doubt because they no longer felt they had sufficient credible evidence.
Rawson said it was "unfortunate" that the 19 cases were dismissed and he strongly criticized Gill's decision.
"There is no relationship between the events (the shooting and the 19 dismissed cases), but the fact that Mr. Gill is seeking to co-join the two can only be explained by political considerations. The timing is inappropriate. The action is inappropriate. The motivation is suspect," he said, claiming Gill was putting the "cart before the horse" in his investigation.
Although Gill did not release Cowley's name, Rawson said it was easy for the media to figure out. Gill's decision to dismiss those cases now, he said, casts a shadow over Cowley as the district attorney's officer-involved shooting review begins. Those two cases have a separate standard of review and should be investigated separately, he said, adding that West Valley investigations into Cowley's actions are still ongoing.
The majority of the 19 dismissed cases appear to involve low-level drug dealers who were arrested for selling balloons filled with heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. At least three of the defendants have long criminal records, including one who was still in the Salt Lake County Jail awaiting trial on separate charges. At least one other man has a pending court case unrelated to the dismissed case.
The majority of the cases in question involve Hispanic defendants. In several cases, the defendant was arrested and released prior to trial, and then disappeared. Those defendants still had active warrants for their arrests when their cases were dismissed, according to Utah state court records.
The man whom West Valley police say Willard was allegedly with just before she was shot is David Brandon Gines, 30. Since the shooting, Gines was charged March 6 with burglary and theft by receiving stolen property, both second-degree felonies; possession of a forgery device, a third-degree felony; and four other misdemeanors. According to court documents, Gines and another man, also named Gines, were attempted to burglarize a house and were caught with counterfeit $50 bills, drugs and drug paraphernalia when they were arrested.
In February, Gines was charged in 3rd District Court with six felony counts related to forgery and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession. According to charging documents, Gines was printing counterfeit money in his bedroom.
None of his charges are connected to the November shooting incident.
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