State of the Debate

Whatever happened to the Danielle Willard case? Well, something ...

First Published      Last Updated Jun 19 2014 01:28 pm

Today, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill filed a manslaughter charge against a former West Valley City Police narcotics officer in what the D.A. ruled months ago was the unjustified shooting of Danielle Willard in November of 2012.

Ex-West Valley City officer charged with manslaughter in Willard shooting — Nate Carlisle | The Salt Lake Tribune

"Seventeen months after Danielle Willard was shot to death, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Thursday he was charging one of the West Valley City detectives with second-degree manslaughter.

"The charge was filed against former West Valley City narcotics detective Shaun Cowley in 3rd District Court. However, Gill opted not to charge the second detective who fired his weapon at Willard, Kevin Salmon. ...

" ... Gill on Thursday gave a list of law enforcement agencies that participated in a task force, including the Salt Lake City and Unified police departments, that made recommendations to Gill's office. Gill said the last expert to review at the case came to his office just 1 1/2 weeks ago. ...

" ... "Nothing about this investigation has been ordinary," Gill said. ..."

Here's what I said about this case almost a year ago.

Was Danielle Willard killed for a piece of licorice? — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune, August 20, 2013

"The original 'Saturday Night Live' TV show had a sketch they did two or three times called 'Ex-Police!' Two big-city cops — Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray — have been kicked off the force, for reasons that soon become apparent, but won't stop crashing down doors.

"In one version, the Ex-Police burst into the apartment of a husband and wife who are taking the edge off a long day by puffing a little pot. The cops shoot both of them to death. One of them remarks, a little sadly but without a hint of irony, 'Another drug-related death'.

"Funny on TV. In real life, not so much. ..."

" ... In the detailed after-action analysis that District Attorney Sim Gill released earlier this month, based largely on the detectives' own accounts, the officers started waving their guns around when Willard wouldn't heed their demands that she spit something out of her mouth. Some black substance the officers thought was her freshly purchased heroin.

"It wasn't. They found that afterward in the side door pocket. Which can only leave us wondering if Danielle Willard was killed for a piece of licorice. ..."