Cowley and Det. Kevin Salmon were recently found to be unjustified in the shooting of Danielle Willard in November 2012.
West Valley Police Chief Lee Russo said Cowley’s firing is not related to Willard’s death, but coincidentally the incident sparked an investigation into the Neighborhood Narcotics Unit as mishandled evidence was found in the back of Cowley’s cop car that day.
Russo said after looking at Cowley’s past behavior it was obvious he needed to go.
“The pattern was so serious,” Russo said. “When we looked at it in totality we didn’t feel that any amount of counseling was going to address this.”
The investigation into the now disbanded narcotics unit revealed missing money and drugs, the misuse of GPS trackers, personal items being kept from seized vehicles and trophies or souvenirs made out of drug trafficking property.
Russo said most of the behavior is attributed to Cowley.
“It was so severe that I really feel that it shook the community's confidence and trust in us,” Russo said.
Three other officers were reinstated after being counseled or reprimanded for their involvement in the actions leading to the accusations of Department policy violations. Transfers were also made within the Department.
Russo said he is hopeful about recovering the money and drugs that remain missing from evidence to this day.
“In the end, the reality may be that we may never be able to identify where those monies or drugs went,” Russo said.
Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill said Cowley’s behavior is subject to criminal charges though nothing has been filed. Gill said he will take Cowley’s actions into consideration when looking at the totality of the investigations surrounding him.
Gill has thrown out over 100 drug cases in which Cowley was involved due to the inability for a successful prosecution.
Lindsay Jarvis, Cowley’s attorney, released a statement to ABC 4 Utah in which she called the termination “cowardly.” In the statement she wrote, “The City’s decision to terminate is clearly a façade, intended to persuade the public into believing Detective Cowley is the sole bad apple in the bunch.”
Click on the related link to read the full statement.
Russo said the termination was necessary after looking at the investigation thoroughly.
“It was clear in my mind what needed to be done,” he said.
Russo’s next item on the agenda is to finish the investigation surrounding the last member of the narcotics unit, Det. Kevin Salmon. Salmon remains on paid administrative leave.