WEST VALLEY CITY — City officials confirmed Monday that West Valley Deputy Police Chief Mike Powell has resigned from the department.
Department spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku had no information Monday about why Powell resigned, but noted that he left on good terms with the department.
The move comes less than a week after Powell was named in former police detective Shaun Cowley's federal civil rights lawsuit against West Valley City, the police department, and several of its chiefs and commanders.
Cowley contends that the city made him the scapegoat to cover up larger problems within the department that came to light following the fatal shooting of Danielle Willard, 21, in 2012.
Vainuku, however, insisted that Powell's resignation had nothing to do with the lawsuit or any other scandal, and said the timing is coincidental.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting was not legally justified and charged Cowley with criminal manslaughter. In an extremely rare move, however, a judge dismissed the charge at the preliminary hearing stage, stating it did not meet the low probable cause standard.
The city fired Cowley in September of 2013. But he appealed his termination and was briefly reinstated in 2015, long enough to collect back pay and benefits he said he was owed, before officially resigning from the department a few days later.
According to Cowley's suit, during the fight over his termination, Powell tampered with witnesses "by ordering fellow police officers to not appear" at his appeals hearing.1 comment on this story
According to Cowley's suit, during the fight over his termination, Powell tampered with witnesses "by ordering fellow police officers to not appear" at his appeals hearing. Powell specifically ordered (Cowley's former partner, detective Kevin) Salmon not to testify at Cowley’s appeal, the suit states.
Powell was formerly the spokesman for the West Valley Police Department and became its face during the Susan Powell disappearance and Josh Powell investigation, conducting the majority of interviews with reporters during that time.