Police Abuse

Former Cop Facing Manslaughter Charge After Shooting Unarmed Woman, Wants His Job Back With Back Pay


the hero, after shooting an unarmed woman
via KSL

Shawn Cowley, a former narcotics officer in West Valley City, Utah, is facing a single count of manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed woman in a parking lot during an undercover drug operation. Via the Associated Press:

Cowley fired at the unarmed [Danielle] Willard as she backed her car out of an apartment complex parking spot. He contended his life was in danger, but [the district attorney, Sim] Gill said that's not the case because Cowley was standing on the side of the woman's car.

Cowley's attorney Lindsay Jarvis has called Gill's decision to prosecute the former officer "incredibly disappointing" and said Cowley continues to maintain his innocence.

The district attorney previously found the shooting, which also involved another cop who is not facing any criminal charges, not justified, opening the door up to the current prosecution the cop's attorney calls "disappointing." Willard's mother, too, said she was disappointed, that Cowley wasn't charged with anything more serious, although she says she's happy he was charged at all.

Cowley was fired after the incident, but it doesn't sound like it was quite because he killed someone while on duty. The Deseret News explains:

Cowley and [the other cop, Kevin] Salmon were members of West Valley's now disbanded Neighborhood Narcotics Unit. After the shooting, Cowley was fired from the department for allegedly mishandling evidence and being insubordinate. Salmon has remained on paid administrative leave since the incident. Cowley is in the process of appealing his firing before the West Valley City Civil Service Commission. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 25.

The generous labor protections afforded to police officers as public employees means Cowley could get his job back before he's convicted or acquitted, and could get paid for it. His first criminal hearing is July 7.