WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion on Monday to dismiss 69 more cases conducted by the West Valley City Police Department’s Neighborhood Narcotics Unit.
The 69 new cases are added to more than two dozen cases connected to the unit that have already been dropped by the district attorney, bringing the total number of dropped cases to 88.
Internal reviews and audits of the now-disbanded narcotics unit were conducted by the West Valley City Police Dept., along with external investigations by the District Attorney’s Office and the FBI, after the Nov. 2 death of Danielle Willard, who was shot and killed by two detectives during a drug bust.
The department’s internal investigation found multiple issues within the narcotics unit, including drugs and money missing from evidence in some cases, mishandling of evidence, improper use of informants and GPS trackers used without proper warrants.
After the results of last week’s internal investigation were released to the public, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said that hundreds of cases involving multiple officers could be dropped because of those issues.
“What’s different about this is that the scope is more than one officer. It involves multiple officers. The other thing is that they’re not primarily limited to just drug cases for the first time, they also involve some gang prosecutions as well as some violent crimes,” Gill said.
Gill says that he believes the number of dropped cases could rise into the triple digits before their investigation is over.
“I wish I could say honestly that this was over and I can’t,” he said.
Two officers from the narcotics unit are on paid administrative leave while the Danielle Willard investigation continues. There have been no formal criminal charges filed against any of the officers.