Expert witness says Shaun Cowley used ‘excessive force’ in Danielle Willard shooting

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SALT LAKE CITY -- An independent review of the 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard says former West Valley City police detective Shaun Cowley used excessive force.

During the second day of Cowley’s preliminary hearing, the investigator tasked with conducting the review of the case, testified that Cowley and West Valley City police detective Kevin Salmon didn’t follow standard police tactics.

“Mr. Cowley described having to turn, recognize a threat toward him, also recognize a potential threat toward Det. Salmon, draw his weapon, acquire a site picture that he went into pretty good detail. My expertise in training people is that’s just not a likely scenario,” said investigator Det. Chris Kotrodimos.

The defense argues the expert witnesses didn’t have all the evidence and appeared to be biased from office gossip about Cowley’s character.

“Det. Cowley had almost two seconds to respond to an incident that took two seconds. You are asking an officer to make unbelievable decisions in a short amount of time when he’s faced with a life or death situation and that’s the reason why we have aggressively fought this case,” said defense attorney Lindsay Jarvis.

The last day of the preliminary hearing is Wednesday. At the end of the hearing a judge will decide if Cowley will go to trial on manslaughter charges.


  • Bob

    I don’t know what happened because I wasn’t there. (Neither were you.) But I DO know contradiction when I see it.

    Cowley is simultaneously arguing that he assessed the situation in meticulous detail, and claiming that he had only 2 seconds to “make an unbelievable decision in a short amount of time.”

    He’s changing his story to fit the question. That doesn’t look good. Pick a story, son, and stick with it.

    Fortunately for him he’s a cop, and therefore immune to personal responsibility. He’ll skate.

  • Stuart McDonald

    There are occupational hazards you just have to accept if you have employed in the illegal pharmaceuticals business. Your customers are not above killing you for your stash, your vendors are not above killing you if you don’t pay up, and the police are not above shooting you if you try to run over them on your way out of dodge.

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