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West Valley City appealing decision for narcotics lieutenant

Published May 28, 2014 1:45 pm

Law enforcement •Commission's ruling will be challenged in Court of Appeals.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

West Valley City on Wednesday took the first steps to again demote the former commander of its troubled Neighborhood Narcotics Unit.

The city filed a notice with the Utah Court of Appeals seeking to overturn a decision reinstating the rank and pay of Lt. John Coyle. Written and oral arguments are likely weeks or months away.

West Valley City demoted Coyle to officer in 2013.Coyle and his attorney went before the West Valley City Civil Service Commission in January to ask his rank and pay be reinstated. On May 15, the commission sided with Coyle and overturned the demotion.

The Neighborhood Narcotics Unit came into focus after two of its detectives shot and killed Danielle Willard on Nov. 2, 2012. The detectives suspected Willard had just bought drugs and were trying to stop her as she reversed her car.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has said the shooting was not justified under Utah law, but has not yet made a decision about filing criminal charges against the two detectives.

Coyle commanded the unit. West Valley City administrators have said Coyle violated policies on property handling, reporting use-of-force and supervising subordinates.

The West Valley City Civil Service Commission agreed Coyle violated the policies, but said the violations were technical in nature and the demotion was not warranted, particularly since the sergeant in the unit was accused of much of the same but received only a 80-hour suspension.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle