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Board examining case of police officer who shot at Danielle Willard

First Published Aug 14 2014 12:37PM      Last Updated Oct 11 2014 05:00 pm

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Melissa Kennedy, mother of Danielle Willard, speaks during a "rally against police violence" outside of West Valley City Hall on the one year anniversary of Danielle Willard's death Saturday November 2, 2013. Former West Valley City narcotics detective Shaun Cowley has been charged with second-degree felony manslaughter in the shooting death of Danielle Willard.

West Valley City • The police department here has finished its review of Kevin Salmon, the officer who shot at but missed Danielle Willard, and forwarded the findings to a review board.

The step means West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo could soon announce whether Salmon will be disciplined or whether he will be fired.

West Valley City’s Professional Standards Review Board studied the police department’s findings Thursday morning in a closed meeting. The board is to make a recommendation to Russo.

"The chief should have the recommendation from the [review board] today, and he is hoping to make a decision as soon as possible," said Roxeanne Vainuku, a spokeswoman for the police department.



Russo will then notify Salmon whether he faces any ramifications for shooting at Willard. If so, Salmon is entitled to a hearing to appeal Russo’s decision. Russo then will make a final decision.

Salmon has been on paid leave since Nov. 2, 2012. That day, Salmon and Detective Shaun Cowley, 33, were conducting a drug investigation in the area of 2290 W. Lexington Park Drive (3710 South). They believed they saw a drug deal and approached Willard, 21, as she backed a car from a parking spot.

The Subaru brushed Salmon’s leg, prosecutors have said.

Cowley — who fired first, striking Willard in the head — has claimed the car’s rear bumper struck his right leg.

Salmon’s shots missed.

Nine months later, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced the shooting was not justified under Utah law. In June of this year, Gill charged Cowley with second-degree felony manslaughter, saying: "The evidence supports that [Cowley’s] life was not in danger."

Gill opted not to charge Salmon.

West Valley City had already fired Cowley for mishandling evidence in drug cases. Cowley is appealing his termination.

He has not yet entered a formal plea to the manslaughter charge, though his lawyers have said he did nothing wrong by shooting Willard. Prosecutors will present evidence at a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 2.

The Utah chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which has been representing Salmon, declined to comment Thursday.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle

 

 

 

 

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