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West Valley City fires one cop involved in Willard shooting

Published September 13, 2013 8:43 am

Shaun Cowley • Detective was one of 2 officers accused of killing a woman, 21.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City announced Thursday that it had fired one of the two officers accused of killing Danielle Willard.

The city said it had fired Detective Shaun Cowley, who was recently found to have been unjustified in the November shooting of Willard.

Cowley's attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, vowed to publicly fight the termination, saying West Valley City had made her client the "fall guy" for the entire Neighborhood Narcotics Unit experiencing problems.

She said Cowley was a victim of "no supervision and no training on how to become an undercover narcotics agent."

"I would love for the media to hear what West Valley City [police] have done," she said, noting it has been a long 10 months for Cowley.

She said she was filing an appeal on Cowley's behalf.

Meanwhile, the city also announced that it had reinstated three additional officers to full duty — Lt. John Coyle, Sgt. Michael Johnson and Detective Ricardo Franco. Police said Franco received a 40-hour suspension and Johnson, 80. Coyle is appealing his disciplinary action.

The trio joins detective Rafael Frausto, Barbara Lund, Sean McCarthy and Chris Smith, who were restored to active duty last month with letters of counseling or letters of reprimand for their "involvement in the actions leading to the accusations of department policy violations," the city said.

Detective Kevin Salmon, who was also involved in the fatal shooting of Willard during an alleged drug bust, remains on leave.

Coyle, Johnson, Franco, Frausto, Lund, McCarthy and Smith and were placed on paid administrative leave in April amid allegations of corruption, mishandling evidence and systemic cover-ups. Cowley and Salmon were already on leave for the Willard incident.

"I have been briefed on the investigation into the Police Department's Neighborhood Narcotics Unit and the nine officers who have been on leave," newly installed West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo said in a statement. "I fully support the actions that have been taken and stand behind the decisions of my command staff and of the city manager."

The Neighborhood Narcotics Unit remains disbanded.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

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