This week, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office declared the shooting and death of Daniele Willard was unjustified. Danielle Willard was a young woman who was gunned down in a parking lot in West Valley over nine months ago by two West Valley City police officers. This past Thursday, district attorney Sim Gill announced at a press conference that the after an extensive investigation of over 3,800 pages of evidence, his opinion was that the officer’s testimonies did not match the evidence. The officers involved in the shooting stated Ms. Willard was trying to run them over by backing up towards them in her vehicle. They further explained in their respective statements that they were hit and knocked over by her car and feared for their lives. According to the DA’s office their statements are not supported by any of the other evidence including the forensic investigation. Mr. Gill found the officers were never directly behind Ms. Willard’s vehicle but rather were located towards the side of the vehicle and were never in reasonable fear of serious injury or death. Additionally, the DA indicated while one of the officers may have been slightly brushed by Ms. Willard’s vehicle as she backed up, the officers were never in imminent danger and were completely unjustified in taking Ms. Willard’s life. Officer Cowley’s attorney obviously disagreed with the DA’s assessment of the case even calling part of Mr. Gill’s statements ridiculous.
The Willard Family Responds
The Willard family responded to the DA’s remarks through their lawyer stating, “On behalf of Danielle’s family, we appreciate District Attorney Sim Gill’s investigative findings that Danielle’s killing was not justified. The findings confirm what we have already known, that Danielle was murdered.” The officers involved were placed on administrative leave several months ago. It remains to be seen whether or not the officers will be charged with some type of homicide charge. Most legal analysts believe criminal charges against the officers are imminent and will likely be handed down in the next few weeks.