Attorney for former West Valley City Police officer Shaun Cowley calls manslaughter charges politically motivated

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The attorney for the former West Valley City police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter says the charges are politically motivated.

Today Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill filed second-degree manslaughter charges against Shaun Cowley in relation to the shooting death of Danielle Willard.

Willard was shot and killed during a drug investigation in November 2012 when she allegedly tried to back out of a parking lot and take off. Gill says Cowley lied when he claimed Willard tried to run him over. The investigation showed Cowley opened fire at the side of the car, not the rear where he claimed he was about to be hit.

Cowley’s attorney strongly disagrees, claiming the charges are part of a political move to benefit Gill’s coming re-election endeavors.

In a press release Thursday Lindsay Jarvis wrote, “In spite of Sim Gill’s public presentation of manipulated evidence, which was both unethical and prejudicial, we are confident that Detective Cowley will prevail at trial. 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.”

Cowley was booked and released from Salt Lake Metro Jail on a $10,000 bond. As for his partner Kevin Salmon, he remains on paid administrative leave until the force finishes its administrative investigation which Chief Russo says is expected within the next 30 days.


District Attorney Sim Gill says, while Salmon opened fire on Willard after Cowley did, they couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty of any crime.

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