Latest News

Police officer complains that his life was ruined following shooting of an unarmed woman

By Mason White 11:51 AM June 16, 2015
Shaun Cowley 

By: Chan Yuan
A police officer is fighting to get his job back after killing an unarmed woman.

Detective Shaun Cowley of Utah, took a woman away from her family, but now, he said that it’s his life that was ruined.

Detective Cowley fired two shots through the driver’s side window of a car, killing 21-year-old Danielle Willard.

“The shooting cost me everything,” Cowley said. “You make a split second decision about whether you go home that day and someone else does not. That’s a heavy burden,” he added.

Cowley, 34, was one of six detectives working in drug busts of heroin and methamphetamine in West Valley City, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

As part of an investigation, they watched an apartment complex and saw Willard get into a car to put something in her mouth.

Officers assumed that she was trying to swallow heroin.

Cowley drew his service weapon, aimed it at Cowley and ordered her to get out of her car. However, she did not answer. Her doors were locked and the windows were closed.

Cowley said that the woman backed up very fast and he became scared, thinking she was going to hit his partner.

He said that he does not remember shooting Willard as “everything went black.”

Nine months later, the department published a report, saying that the shooting was not justified. The autopsy found no drugs in Willard’s system.

It took 10 months however, before the officers involved were charged with manslaughter.

Police Chief Buzz Nielsen resigned, citing “health reasons.” The new chief, Lee Russo, fired Cowley for mishandling of evidence, after money and drugs disappeared.

“You have a police officer who lost drugs and money. Is that the kind of police officer you want in the community?” Russo said.

Cowley is now fighting to rejoin the force, saying that his “life has been ruined.” His wife left him after the shooting and he now lives in the basement of his parent’s home.