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Family of woman shot by West Valley police is 'craving answers'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

At the time Danielle Willard was shot by West Valley City detectives on Friday in an incident police say is still under investigation, she seemed to be doing better after her battles with drug addiction, according to her family.

The 21-year-old moved to Murray from Vancouver, Wash., to live in a rehabilitation facility in April. After three months there, Willard's mother, Melissa Kennedy, urged her to stay.

"We wanted her to stay there because we thought she would be safe there," Kennedy said Saturday in a telephone interview from her Vancouver home. "Obviously, that's not true either."

Before entering rehab, Willard struggled with heroin addiction. Kennedy said she had no idea what her daughter was doing in the apartment complex where she was shot and another officer was injured. The officer's injuries did not come from gunshots, and police have not said whether any shots were exchanged.

Kennedy said she hoped Willard hadn't fallen back into drugs, but she couldn't know for sure. There are a lot of things she doesn't know right now.

"We're very upset that our baby's gone," Kennedy said, "but we're really craving answers."

Since a pastor contacted her family to tell them to call a West Valley police detective, Willard's family hasn't been told much about their daughter's death. It was still unknown on Saturday whether Willard was armed or where on her body she was shot. A silver car that was involved in the shooting was Willard's, according to Kennedy. She said Willard was in the car when she was shot.

Willard did not own a weapon and wasn't one to pick fights, Kennedy said.

"The main thing I want to know is did she have a gun in her hand," she said. "I just don't see it."

On Saturday, West Valley City police did not release more information about the incident that led to Willard's death and said they wouldn't until Monday at the earliest.

Willard, known to her family as Dee Dee, had a 19-year-old sister and a 14-year-old brother. She was passionate about photography, and despite her struggles with drugs, was a generally happy person, her mother said.

"She was a happy girl for the most part," Kennedy said. "Her smile was gorgeous."

kbennion@sltrib.com Twitter: @KimballBennion

Crime • West Valley City refusing to release more details, citing ongoing investigation.
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