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Cowley Settles With West Valley City, Resigns

The officer who shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard has resigned from the West Valley City Police Department. Former narcotics detective Shaun Cowley reached a settlement with West Valley City over the weekend that includes more than $100,000 in back pay and benefits.

The department fired Cowley in 2013 for alleged insubordination and mishandling of evidence. Cowley appealed the termination, but last week, West Valley City attorney Eric Bunderson filed a motion to dismiss the case. The city was unable to produce documents needed for Cowley’s disciplinary hearing.  City Manager Wayne Pyle calls it a technicality. He says the city was justified in firing Cowley.

“Mr. Cowley was not in any sense of the word either vindicated or a scapegoat,” Pyle says. “All of the same problems that existed with Mr. Cowley from the very beginning of this investigation still exist today. Drugs and money were missing and continue to be missing.”

Cowley’s attorney Lindsay Jarvis maintains the police department is using her client to protect its own tarnished image. The department’s Neighborhood Narcotics Unit was disbanded in 2012, following corruption allegations.

“This is not a Shaun Cowley problem,” Jarvis says. “This is West Valley City actively trying to destroy evidence in an effort to make Shaun look like the bad guy. They have multiple lawsuits pending against them.”

Last fall a 3rd District Court Judge dismissed a manslaughter case against Cowley for the 2012 death of Danielle Willard.

Cowley says he’s talking with his family about how to move forward and whether he’ll remain in law enforcement. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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