District Attorney drops additional 26 West Valley drug cases

District Attorney drops additional 26 West Valley drug cases

The Salt Lake County District Attorney is dropping 26 more drug cases handled by West Valley police officers being investigated for corruption. ABC 4 Utah is told the additional cases signify the end of only the first round of potential cases to be dismissed.
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - The Salt Lake County District Attorney is dropping 26 more drug cases handled by West Valley police officers being investigated for corruption.  ABC 4 Utah is told the additional cases signify the end of only the first round of potential cases to be dismissed.

Charges for drug crimes in West Valley City keep on dropping.

"I think we're making progress," said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney. 

For weeks the Salt Lake County District Attorney has been sifting through stacks of drug cases worked on by West Valley Police's now defunct Neighborhood Narcotics Unit. The unit is being investigated for allegations of corruption. Before Friday those allegations forced prosecutors to dismiss 98 cases. Now the District Attorney is saying he has to throw out 26 more, bringing the total number of West Valley drug cases dropped to 134. 

"The number of cases is starting to taper down because we crossed the most cases threshold already," said Gill. 

But the dismissals aren't over yet. The D.A. said he now has to start looking at cases that may only be half bad. So far there's at least 73 of those.

"Which we think will be comprised in some way but that element that compromises it can excised out or cauterized in a way that we can salvage and defend those cases," Gill said.   

One of those cases is being defended by Attorney Clayton Simms. His client Yeshia Garcia is being charged with two counts of attempted murder and possession of drugs, among other charges. Back in 2010 members of the Neighborhood Narcotics Unit searched his West Valley home, and found the evidence needed to charge him with the crimes.
 
"You look at that and wonder about how that evidence was collected, how it was processed and the same officers involved in the West Valley City scandal are the same officers processing some of this evidence," said Clayton Simms, Attorney.  

Simms said his office needs to know exactly what those officers are accused of doing, so he can prepare to defend his client.

"If they don't reply with our request for that information we asking that those charges at least some of them be dismissed," said Simms.

The D.A. said that may have to happen, it may to be tricky to weed out the corruption from the crime, but said he needs to try.

"We haven't given up on that case, but we understand that there are elements to it that we understand because of the conduct of one or more officers may have comprised that," said Gill.    

So you now have 134 cases that are being dismissed, a new batch of 73 cases where only part of them may be dismissed, once the DA is finished with all of those... his next job is looking at cases where criminals have already been prosecuted and convicted. The D.A. has to decide if those crimes need to be overturned. There are hundreds if not more of those cases.

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Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @tv_briancarlson
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