Utah Parents Sue City After Daughter Is Killed Allegedly “Assassination Style” By Now Disbanded Special Narcotics Unit

1031746Melissa Kennedy and Frederick Willard, parents of the late Danielle Willard, are suing local police in an extraordinary case in which they say that their daughter was shot to death “assassination style” by a now disbanded special narcotics unit that has been accused of corruption and abuse. They are suing West Valley City, its police Officers Shaun Cowley and Kevin Salmon, Lt. John Coyle, Police Chief Thayle “Buzz” Nielsen, and 10 Doe officers, in Federal Court.

West Valley City is a  suburb of Salt Lake City. Danielle Willard, 21, was fatally shot in the back of her head around 1:30 pm by defendants Shaun Cowley and Kevin Salmon. The complaint states “since the tragic shooting of Danielle Willard, it has been uncovered that Officers Cowley and Salmon were engaged in a pattern and practice of illegal conduct and widespread and systemic corruption, sanctioned by the West Valley Police Department, culminating in the unjustified and senseless killing of Danielle Willard.” The Complaints details allegations of corruption in the narcotic unit leading up to its disbanding.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsA statement from the police insisted that the detectives believed they saw Willard buying drugs and that when they approached her Subaru Forester, she put the vehicle in reverse. They insist that the vehicle made contact with Cowley and they both fired on the driver. However, West Valley City recently fired Shaun Cowley. His attorneys admitted that “the FBI investigation into the West Valley City Neighborhood Narcotics Unit will reveal practices and customs within the unit that are inconsistent with policies and procedures associated with law enforcement within the State of Utah,” but insisted that Cowley was following the standards and practices that he was given.

The unit was disbanded after the disappearance of money and drugs as well as the tossing out of roughly 100 drug cases. What is odd is that there are no criminal charges given this record of the unit.

Source: Goldschp

25 thoughts on “Utah Parents Sue City After Daughter Is Killed Allegedly “Assassination Style” By Now Disbanded Special Narcotics Unit

  1. I want to hear more about how The War on Drugs keeps our communities safe and our children healthy. It would also be appreciated if I could get a few sentences about brave law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day as the “thin blue line” protecting citizens from criminals. Can I also hear about the utterly indispensable doctrine of sovereign immunity?


  2. These jackbooted narcotics thugs terrorize and murder American citizens throughout this land. They lie, cheat and steal and never face any criminal consequences. Whenever a local prosecutor has the integrity to file criminal charges against these clowns the defense portrays them as brave warriors in the War Against Drugs and stupid and gullible jurors vote to acquit them. Despite all of the evidence against the corrupt Oakland police and the Los Angeles Ramparts Unit there have been few if any convictions of dirty cops.

  3. When I click on the final link in the Professor’s posting I am taken to:

    “The Art of Onfim: Medieval Novgorod Through the Eyes of a Child”

    “One of the most fascinating archeological finds in Russia has been the discovery of hundreds of “birchbark documents” (messages written on the bark of birch trees with a sharp stylus) that were created from the 11th to the 15th century.”


    It doesn’t have anything to do with the case but it is interesting.

    This police unit has been out of control for quite a while, there are three other shootings ruled unjustified.

    “D.A. Gill, West Valley City’s top cop have ‘frank’ talk over shooting review”

    ” …The District Attorney’s Office under Gill so far has ruled that three officer-involved shootings in Salt Lake County were not justified. One of those rulings led to charges of reckless endangerment against West Valley City police Officer Jared Cardon in the May 2011 nonfatal shooting of Jose Contreras, but the charges were later dismissed.

    Gill’s office declined to prosecute Salt Lake City police officers involved in the other two shootings that were ruled unjustified.

    Willard was originally from Vancouver, Wash., but lived in Utah for the last few months of her life. She had moved to Murray to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program to overcome a heroin addiction.

    On Nov. 2, Willard was shot twice in the head outside the Lexington Park Apartments, 2292 Lexington Park Drive (3710 South), as two plainclothes officers were conducting a drug investigation.

    Willard was unarmed and sitting in her car at the time, according to her mother”


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