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Police offer details about shooting death

WEST VALLEY Utah (ABC 4 News) - Police claim they were about to be run over causing them to fire at a woman who eventually died from their gunfire.
WEST VALLEY CITY Utah (ABC 4 News) - Police claim their lives were in danger.
It is the first time West Valley Police are saying anything about the shooting death of Danielle Willard.
But one of those officers, Shawn Cowley is currently under investigation after 19 criminal cases he was involved in were dismissed by the Salt Lake District Attorney,

According to a police spokesman the two detectives claimed there watched Willard make a drug by in November and then drove off.
They allegedly watched her pull over and take the drugs when the approached her car.

"When detectives reached the vehicle and identified themselves as police officers Ms. Willard put the vehicle in reverse and backed out of the parking stall," says Sgt. Jason Hauer.

Sgt. Hauer claimed Willard spun her care completely around and Cowley was in the line of Willard's moving vehicle.

"As this was occurring, detective Cowley was struck by the vehicle," says Hauer. "And both detective Cowley and (Kevin) Salmon fired their service weapons. Ms. Willard was struck and killed as a result of the gunfire."

Willard died on scene.
For months family members attempted to get information about the investigation. But the family claimed they were shut out by police.
But a day after Cowley was blamed for 19 criminal cases being dismissed by the district attorney, police finally gave the family some answers.

“I did not expect anything other that what they sent out," says Willard's mother Melissa Kennedy. "I had a feeling that this would be something like they would probably come out with.”

Kennedy has hired high priced Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos and she says they've done their own digging that shows Cowley may be lying.

“We know who shot Danielle and because his credibility is completely gone at this point whatever he says about Danielle’s case … how is anybody supposed to believe that,” says Kennedy.

Geragos sent a letter to the police administration once again requesting police records in the shooting be released.

The letter addressed to West Valley acting police chief demanded the following: "As you are aware a 'mysterious' fire destroyed the surveillance video which would have otherwise captured the incident involving Willard's death. Being that this crucial evidence has inexplicably been destroyed, we demand that you preserve all evidence related to investigations conducted by your agency by releasing and or making availble for inspection all personal property and other evidence relating to the investigation of Ms. Willard's death."

Meanwhile the attorney representing the Fraternal Order of Police says the district attorney should recuse himself from the investigation.

"We believe that Officer Cowley will certainly be exonerated," says Bret Rawson an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police.

Rawson claims the district attorney may have prejudiced the ongoing investigation involving the Willard death. He claims the district attorney knew the search warrant involving the Willard death was going to be unsealed and it would name Cowley.

"He's shown his cards of what he already perceives about the officer," Rawson says. "It would be appropriate and the proper action at this point is to have an adjacent county DA screen the case."

Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill says he has no intention of turning the case over to another county attorney. He says it was the 'ethical" thing to do in dismissing the 19 criminal cases once he learned about the problems involved.

"You can't leave someone in jail after you've found out there's problems with the case," Gill says.

Gill says he didn't know the search warrant was going to be released until police informed him Wednesday. He says they told him after he had already gone public with the dismissal of the 19 criminal cases.


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