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Cop who shot Danielle Willard to ask for job back

Published March 19, 2014 7:59 pm

Shaun Cowley • He wants to return to the West Valley City police force.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The West Valley City police detective who shot and killed Danielle Willard will ask for his job back next month.

The city's civil service commission on Wednesday scheduled Shaun Cowley's employment hearing for 8 a.m. April 23, 24, 28, 29 and 30. A hearing had been scheduled for February but was postponed when Cowley's attorney requested more time to prepare.

Cowley fired the shot that killed 21-year-old Willard during a November 2012 drug bust. But that shooting was not listed as reason for his termination.

The shooting sparked an internal probe of the narcotics unit after drug evidence was found in the trunk of Cowley's patrol car, rather than the department's evidence room.

Cowley's attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, has argued her client is the "fall guy" for the narcotics unit and the victim of no training on how to be an undercover detective.

The probe revealed multiple violations by detectives in the Neighborhood Narcotics Unit, including that members of the unit had mishandled evidence, inappropriately used GPS tracking devices, kept trophies, or removed change and other property from suspect's vehicles.

Six of the officers have been disciplined; a seventh officer, Kevin Salmon, remains on paid leave in connection with the Willard shooting.

Cowley and former Lt. John Coyle — who headed the narcotics unit and was demoted after the probe — are both appealing their discipline to the civil service commission. Coyle's hearing was in January.

The three-member commission has not yet decided whether to reinstate Coyle to his former rank of lieutenant.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office deemed the shooting of Willard was not legally justified. No criminal charges have been filed against Cowley or Salmon in connection with the shooting.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle