WVC officer at center of shooting, dismissed drug cases defends himself
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The detective at the center of an officer-involved shooting and a series of dismissed drug cases is defending himself.
In an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday at his attorney’s office, Shaun Cowley says he believes his credibility has been challenged by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s decision to dismiss 19 cases he was involved in.
Cowley would not reveal any details about the November shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard, citing a West Valley City Police Department policy that prohibits him from speaking about it. He told FOX 13 he wished he could tell Willard’s mother what happened.
“I can’t go into details of the case,” Cowley said. “But I can say that my heart and my family’s heart goes out to her family. It’s a bad situation that happened and the lack of information that was provided to the family and to us as officers is not right.”
Willard was shot by two West Valley City officers who were conducting surveillance on a suspected drug house. Police have said the officers acted in self-defense.
Frustrated by a lack of information for the past five months, Willard’s mother has accused police of a “cover up.”
Cowley told FOX 13 on Tuesday he believed his life was in danger.
“He’s not a dirty cop,” said Cowley’s attorney, Lindsay Jarvis. “He was involved in a shooting. The science behind this will clear his name and the people will see this was a justified shooting.”
Compounding the issue surrounding Cowley is 19 drug cases the Salt Lake County District Attorney abruptly dismissed last week. The West Valley City Police Department has said there were “issues” with the cases. An analysis of the cases reveal Cowley’s name is on every single case.
Cowley said he did not know why the cases were dismissed. He denied any wrongdoing, whether it was witness or evidence tampering or something else.
“To be honest, I don’t know. My name is attached to the cases. I don’t know if this has something to do with the shooting. I have no idea what his motivation is,” he said.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told FOX 13 there are five cases his office is investigating that involve allegations of criminal wrongdoing by a West Valley City police officer. He refused to say if Cowley is the officer involved, but said the allegations led to the mass dismissal of 19 cases pending in the courts.
“The 19 cases were impacted by what we discovered in these five cases,” said Gill. “Whether I discovered that from three weeks or three months ago, the decision would have been exactly the same.”
Cowley said he was blindsided by the allegations. Jarvis questioned the timing, noting the ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting. West Valley City police on Wednesday will begin screening the Willard shooting with Gill’s office, a process that will take two days.
“Our goal is to give this officer, like we do any officer who is involved, the most fair and unbiased look at this issue,” Gill said.
Cowley told FOX 13 he did nothing wrong.
“When everything’s said and done and all the evidence comes out, I have no doubt I will be exonerated,” he said.