County Beat

Former West Valley Detective Charged with Manslaughter in Willard Shooting

(KCPW News) The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday that they were filing a charge in the 2012 police shooting of Danielle Willard. Former West Valley City police detective Shaun Cowley will be charged with second-degree manslaughter for Willard’s death. Willard was shot during an incident with two West Valley officers.

Cowley was fired as a result of the incident. On Thursday afternoon, he was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for his charge. Cowley was seen leaving the jail after his booking.

The other officer, Kevin Salmon, was not charged.

The investigation for this case has taken over a year and a half, and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says it’s a case that has had its fair share of complexities.

“Nothing ‘s been ordinary about this investigation,” Gill says. “The collateral issues surrounding the shooting which involved West Valley certainly added a level of complexity to it. This is a very serious allegation.”

Because of the complicated circumstances, which included corruption within West Valley’s narcotics unit, Gill says his office employed the help of outside experts for the investigation. “They were brought together with no expectations. Their job was to look at all of the evidence and to follow up with any experts. In fact, the last expert came into town about a week and a half ago. When we were done with that, we decided to file charges.”

Cowley’s attorney, Lindsay Jarvis,  released a statement on Thursday afternoon, calling the District Attorney’s decision “politically motivated.” Jarvis goes on to accuse Gill of presenting “manipulated evidence” to the public.

She also states, “Sadly, this case has been used as a political platform for Sim Gill to continue his re-election endeavors, as opposed to being analyzed fairly and impartially. Fortunately, a court of law, which is equipped with rules of procedure, will require the DA’s Office to prove Detective Cowley guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jarvis says Cowley maintains his innocence.

If convicted, Cowley could face up to 15 years in prison.

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