WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Danielle Willard, a 21-year-old Washington state native shot and killed by West Valley City undercover police officers during an attempted arrest.
Willard’s mother, Melissa Kennedy, rallied with about 40 people in front of West Valley’s city hall, waving signs and calling for criminal charges in her daughter’s death.
“I’m mad,” Kennedy said. “I’m incredibly mad that this has taken this long to get this taken care of.”
Kennedy came from her home in Washington state for the rally. She said she’s eager to see charges filed against the officers who shot and killed her daughter.
“I don’t know when we’re going to find out,” she said. “Hopefully it’s not going to be much longer.”
On Nov. 2, 2012, detectives Kevin Salmon and Shaun Cowley said they were trying to arrest Willard on drug charges at Lexington Park Apartments. Cowley claims Willard tried to run him over with her car, and hit his leg, knocking him to the ground. Both officers opened fire. Cowley’s first shot hit Willard in the head, killing her at the scene.
In August, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill released the results of his own investigation, saying the shooting was not justified.
It added fuel to a fire that started shortly after the shooting, when an investigation revealed major issues that lead to the eventual disbandment of the West Valley Police Department’s neighborhood narcotics unit. Cowley was fired back in September for actions not related to Willard’s death.
The seven other officers under investigation have since been reinstated.
“It’s a no brainer, every one of those guys on that narcotics team when it was disbanded, needs to be charged,” Kennedy said.
Cowley claims he's become the scapegoat for all the bad publicity the West Valley Police Department has received from Willard's death.
Cowley’s attorney said Cowley is not fighting to get his job back, but to restore his reputation.