Former WVCPD detective involved in Danielle Willard shooting files civil lawsuit

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — A former detective involved in the shooting of Danielle Willard and fired over mishandling of evidence has filed a civil rights lawsuit against West Valley City along with the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office.07 - Danielle Willard shooting not justified

The lawsuit demands for a jury trial due to violation of due process, unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection, according to court documents released Tuesday. the lawsuit also names West Valley City Police Department, city attorney Wayne Pyle and Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill along with several others as defendants on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit stems from the shooting that Gill ruled unjustified when Cowley shot and killed 21-year-old Willard in 2012 during a drug investigation and charged him with manslaughter.

In 2014, the judge tossed the case ruling Cowley reasonably believed his life was in danger by Willard.

Cowley was fired by West Valley City police in September 2013 over accusations of mishandling evidence as part of the department’s troubled neighborhood narcotics unit.

Since then, Cowley fought to be reinstated.

During an employee discipline hearing last summer, attorneys for West Valley City filed a motion in a justice court asking a judge to rule in favor of Cowley.

In the filing, the city acknowledged it could not provide some papers to Cowley’s attorneys so it sought to drop the case.

Cowley reached a settlement with West Valley City for nearly $160,000 in back pay, benefits and retirement, in exchange for his resignation last June.

The former detective was reinstated last year but quit three days later saying it was a hostile work environment.

West Valley City officials released the following statement in response to Cowley’s lawsuit:

We are disappointed that Shaun Cowley, who voluntarily resigned from West Valley City, has decided to file a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the City. We have yet to be served, but we intend to vigorously defend any suit brought against the City by Mr. Cowley.

Read the lawsuit in its entirety below:


  • russojoe205000

    This POS got away with murder and now all he’s looking for is a big pay out so he can sit on his fat ass .
    The only that that coward deserves is a 8X10 prison cell for murder.


      Don’t try running over the police officer who’s attemting to question you regarding drug transaction and you will live to see tomorrow.

      • FRANK

        Sounds like west valley’s finest.dont have a problem murdering 90 lb little girls.or people who smoke wesd..or ant other kinds of drugs. Why dont you guy’s hang out at the pharmacy.and send all those addicts back to hell as well.i bet you will get somebody in a wheel chair. Tough guy

      • David Spanks

        You should update your notes about what really happened. If you did more than just read the paper you would know.


    Love the fact that a cop murders a young lady.then expects to get paid for it. Just go’s to show you west valley’s finest. Your a real piece of work there shaun

  • Mack

    She was a stoner and a moron who deserved to be shot. Don’t be stupid when it comes to cops and the law and there won’t be a problem. She is solely responsible for her own death.

    • Ryan Davis

      Completely agree. I would love to see moreof the druggies taken off the street by whatever means necessary. It would solve the drug problem very quickly if it became a capital offence.

    • David Spanks

      This girl did not deserve to die. She did not have a weapon on her and she had no idea these guys were cops. Also, she did not drive herself to that apartment. Someone else drove her there and the two cops that called themselves detectives would have done a better job of thinking that this black stuff that was in her mouth was the whoppers in her passenger seat. What great detective these guys were. The prof is still in her car seat today.

  • mormon lover

    Cops are always all about due process and Constitutional protection when it comes to themselves. Where was Danielle’s due process when she was shot to death without being convicted of or even charged with a crime? The cops said he could legally shoot her because he was in fear for his life? I would imagine SHE was in fear for HER life when she saw herself staring down the barrels of trigger-happy cop’s guns, why are cops entitled to protect THEIR lives from citizens but citizens not entitled to protect their lives from cops?

    Cops aren’t worth more than anyone – they’re not worth more that a heroin junkie or child molester or Joe Blow down the street. They’re just people getting paid to do the job they chose. If they chose a job with more risk than the average person, that’s on them. Firefighters risk their lives every single day, but rather than shooting animals and scared, 100 lb. girls like pansies, they run TO danger to protect others from it.

    This cop is a worthless pile of excrement. I hope he gets his, and he will. You can’t kill someone in cold blood and hope to escape the karmic repercussions.

    This dude’s worse than the welfare leaches everyone’s always complaining about. He made a living off of the taxpayers dime, abused his power and now wants more. Why doesn’t he get a real job? Maybe at McDonalds, where there’s nothing to make him cry like a little girl. I know the heat lamps are scary, but I doubt they’ll let him carry a gun. He’ll just have to rock himself in a corner.

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