Shooting death by West Valley police not legally justified, D.A. determines

New investigation launched to determine whether criminal charges should be filed

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  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Aug. 30, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    This article was very disturbing and I can honestly say that I am grateful I do not live in the boundaries of the West Valley Police force. Too much has been taken for granted and too much has been overlooked and lastly too many instances have been let slip under the law. Shameful..that department needs to be revamped.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 1:39 a.m.

    DA Sim Gill is a man of honor who is committed to doing the right thing. He should be commended for looking at the facts ruling appropriately.

    Aug. 11, 2013 10:27 p.m.

    Danielle's story is a tragedy. But the positive that came out of her tragedy, is what was uncovered. At the end of the day it turns out she was not the only way breaking the law. My sympathy goes out to Danielle's family and my admiration goes out to a mother who fought for justice for her daughter. Regardless of the lawsuit, you can never replace a child.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Aug. 10, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    To believe that all cops are always in the right, and never make any mistakes -- is fertile ground for Authoritative regimes.

  • phinphan123 Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    This is the first time in a very long time that Government has given me a reason to believe that there are a few honest people left in Government.

    This is truly a good thing.

    We need peace officers again . not law enforcers.

    Would it be nice to be driving alongand come up on a police officer that is visable trying to help remind people to slow down and drive safely rather than a law enforcer hiding, waiting to trap someone.

    These so called law enforcers killed a woman. they need to be punished and imprisoned.

    If Sim Gill were to run for any office I would give every dime I have to support him because he is honest and a true statesman.
    And maybe the only one left.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    There's nothing wrong with defending the police.

    IF they are charged with Homicide and found guilty... I'll switch to your side. But I don't think they are guilty of murder (even if a guy sitting at a desk decides they probably shouldn't have fired).

    I M LDS 2,
    A board of review finding it "not justified" does not mean "Homicide". You are jumping the gun on that one.

    I am personally very suspect of the DAs investigation. His own explanation made no sense. He said he determined that the officer was not hit by the car. But in the next paragraphy he said the officer suffered minor injuries. If the car didn't hit him, how did he get injured?

    I think there is enough tragedy here to go around. Convicting the officers in the press before they have even been charged with anything is premature (IMO)

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    I feel for Danielle's family

    first they lost her to drugs - though there was hope they could recover her again

    then they lost her to this shooting - because she was involved in drugs - but there is no recovery in this life

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 6:03 a.m.

    west valley police are the target of more lawsuits, than the rest of the state combined. however, it seems silly to have gill re-investigate the same shooting. a special prosecutor should be brought in to avoid the appearance of prejudice.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 10:08 p.m.

    There were not 107 accusation of evidence tampering. There was one involving Cowley I'm aware of. The 107 cases were dismissed because certain people had anything to do with them (and Gill is on a personal crusade).

    West Valley made mistakes, but that doesn't automatically mean 107 drug offenders must be put back on the streets. That's a judgment call. I am one citizen who's not happy about it (both Gill and WVPD)

    I hope they clean up the West Valley PD.
    I hope the drug dealers Gill released don't kill anybody.
    I hope Gill is not re-elected.

    That's just how I feel. I have friends in law enforcement, and from talking to them there's no doubt in my mind Gill is out to get law enforcement (not just West Valley), and I think we need a DA who can work with the police, not one on a crusade to send police to jail and send drug dealers back to our streets.

    "Not justified" does not mean it was "Murder". That's still TBD. But the Martin case is over. The jury decided it was self defense (NOT murder or manslaughter).

  • nanato12 Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 5:58 p.m.

    Couldn't he have just shot out the tires??

  • JayTee Sandy, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    It never did take a mental giant to figure out that this was an unjustified murder, and has been allowed to languish all these months because the killers had badges, uniforms, and public paychecks. Compare this blatant murder to the Trayvon Martin case, and then ask yourself where the outrage matches the facts, and where it's totally misplaced. This was a clear-cut murder of an unarmed little gal, and it should be run up the proverbial flagpole to make an example of killers who get paid to uphold the law and then believe they are above it.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    @2bits. Sim dismissed those cases because detective Cowley tampered with and stole evidence. The D.A. office only found out about his evidence tampering because in officer related shootings the officers car is immediately seized and inspected. Upon inspection it was found Cowley had evidence(unrelated to willard) that should of not been with him and evidence was missing as well. This was not an isolated incident with cowley.

    How can the D.A. prosecute cases where the evidence has been compromised? Any first year defense attorney could easily win cases where the evidence has been compromised.

    And to say Gill is a enemy of law enforcement is a baseless. The D.A. office prosecutes hundreds, if not thousands of criminal cases. If he was against law enforcement he wouldn't be prosecuting those cases.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    It's hard to understand why officers in the task force have not yet been fired for mishandling of evidence. It seems the evidence mishandling was not an isolated incident. As far as the shooting goes, I would hate to be the judge as to whether or not the police officers felt their lives were in danger or that the shooting was the result of a rogue police force. If an escaping car came close enough to me to scrape my knee, I would also probably judge that lives were in danger. At the same time, I'm reminded of the Box Elder County incident not so long ago wherein a girl was raped by law enforcement.

    Definitely, all those who were routinely mishandling evidence should have been fired instead of put on administrative leave. Whether or not criminal charges are justified against the officers may depend on evidence not yet shared with the public.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    I wouldn't give two bits for some of the weak comments made here trying to excuse police for homocide.

    If you want that kind of law enforcement, go join Snowden!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    I don't expect Sim Gill or ANYBODY to be a rubber stamp for the police. But Sim Gill is the OTHER extreme.

    All 107 cases didn't need to be dismissed. That was Gill's decision. He needs to be responsible for his decisions. I don't want 107 drug dealers back in my neighborhood because Sim Gill has an ax to grind with law enforcement.

    Many of these drug dealers are in your neighborhood today (because of Sim Gill's decision to let them go without trial). They are probably doing what they were doing again. I want to hear his justification for each drug dealer he put back on the street before I will vote for him again. You don't dismiss 107 case just because an officer made a mistake in another case.

    Sim Gill is not "keeping this country from going to a rogue type of law enforcement". He is an enemy to law enforcement. Ask any person involved in law enforcement. Even the ones I know are clean dispise him and think he's out to get them.

    They need a working relationship. Either Gill... or every person in law enforcement needs to go.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    The dismissal of over a hundred cases for bad evidence shows the mentality of the lack of professionalism by the West Valley department. Disband it and bring in Unified. Shoot first is not a policy we want to encourage.

  • Wonderpus Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    @ all of those who are defending the officers. Maybe you missed this portion of the article, so I'll paste it for you to read:

    >>>>>>"The district attorney said the evidence indicates that the lives of the two detectives were two detectives were not in jeopardy when they fired six shots between them at Willard and her vehicle."

    "Cowley told investigators that he fired his weapon after Willard backed up her car into him and because he believed Salmon had been hit by the vehicle and was down. But Gill said the evidence doesn't support those statements that he fired from the rear of her vehicle or that Salmon had been hit. He said Cowley later admitted that he didn't see Salmon get hit, just that he could no longer see him."

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    Absolutely amazing that some people here are still defending these officers. The unwarranted killing of Danielle Willard was far from the only thing wrong with these two. Taking trophies, money, and drugs from crime scenes and investigations for themselves. Over a *hundred* cases dismissed because of police misbehavior and non-credibility.

    Those who imply that anybody who ever ends up on the wrong side of the law deserves whatever comes to them would probably not be pleased if their friends and family members were shot the next time they broke the speed limit.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    @2bits. At least Sim Gill is not a rubber stamp for law enforcement. Its the check and balances that make this country from going to a rogue type of law enforcement.

    The statements made by the detectives at the scene did not follow the evidence that was produced by the forensics. So in a nutshell they made false statements. When the detectives were questioned after the fact because their statements did not add up they took the fifth.

    Also in every officer police shooting their vehicle is immediately seized. In detective cowleys car there were opened evidence bags, with missing evidence that should of been checked into evidence.(this evidence nothing to do with this case)

    So there is a reason that 107 state and federal cases were dismissed because of detective cowley. And I assume if he is not charged with manslaughter or worse he will be at least charged with evidence tampering.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    All I know is... I would just hate to be a police officer today.

    Yesterday the Utah Supreme Court decided police officers who pursued a teenager who took off when they stopped him (because his parents called police and told them he was very upset and took the family car without permission) are liable for him taking off and crashing his car. Message to police officers... "If you pursue people who run... YOU are responsible for any mistakes they may make".

    Now this one. Message to officers... "If you shoot Sim Gill will do everything he can to prosecute you. Even if you feel your life is in danger".

    Some questions in my mind...
    1. How does Sim Gill know what the officers were feeling in that moment (threatened or not)?
    2. How does he find that the officer was not hit by the car, but he got minor injuries? Where did he get the injuries IF the car didn't hit him? Did he do them to himself?

    I can't wait till I get the chance to vote Sim Gill out. I voted for him, but I've been sorry ever since.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    Try My Best says "Keep in mind that Danielle Willard would not have died if she had been obeying the law."
    The penalty for her crimes may have been jail at worst. She would not have been sentenced to death by firing squad. You cannot justify that shooting.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Aug. 8, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    Danielle Willard was armed with an SUV.
    When your partner goes down and it looks like the car struck him, what are you supposed to do? Investigate to make sure he was actually hit? Criminals should live in fear of the law. Good police officers should not not live in fear of prosecution because they made an honest mistake in the line of duty.

    Sure, police should follow the law. Out of control law enforcement can be a huge problem.

    Just give the benefit of the doubt to the officers.

  • Try My Best South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    It appears these two officers made a mistake. I am glad I don't have to make life-and-death decisions. Keep in mind that Danielle Willard would not have died if she had been obeying the law. I'm not saying she committed a capital offense, but she put herself in the situation.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Aug. 8, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    Note to self: If you're in West Valley and you see a cop, run away. You're liable to get shot or framed for DUI.

  • vangroovin West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    If we all would do the right things, then situations like this would not exist. This is one of those stories where it's sad because from the evidence provided and the conclusion reached as a result of the D.A. investigation that neither party (the victim or the police) were doing the right things and made poor choices. That tends to lead to tragedy. It's unfortunate that there are families on both sides of this issue who are now and have been suffering as the result of poor choices. My heart goes out to them. It just goes to show that our choices do affect others positive or negative. Hopefully we all learn from this and move forward with a better resolve to always strive to do what's right to avoid tragedies like this in the future.

  • 1conservative WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    So......I'm curious, will the officers who have been on paid "administrative leave" still stay on that status?

    Keep in mind, the officers were apparentally under the supervision of a 170k per year police chief, and a 190k per year city manager.

    Don't the citizens of west valley deserve a little bit better police supervision for those amounts?