You may have heard a lot talk lately about problems going on with West Valley City police. 19 of their drug cases were dismissed by the Salt Lake County District Attorney. The FBI is investigating corruption in the department’s former narcotics unit, and some believe West Valley is trying to cover up the death of Danielle Willard. Now ABC 4 is learning they all have something in common.
"We started to see that those things overlap," said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney.
Thursday, Reporter Brian Carlson talked to Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill. He told Carlson the concerns going on right now with West Valley police are all tied to each other. First, notice the names of the two West Valley drug detectives who shot and killed Danielle Willard in November.
"Both Det.Cowley and Salmon fired their service weapons. Miss Willard was struck and killed as a result of the gun fire," said Sgt. Jason Hauer, West Valley Police Spokesperson.
Both Det. Cowley and Salmon were members of the West Valley Neighborhood Narcotics Unit. It's the same unit West Valley police asked the FBI to investigate for corruption. Wednesday Acting Chief Anita Schwemmer said they recognized issues within the unit last year, disbanded the unit, and reassigned its members last December.
"We did have some concerns and they have not been reorganized since then," said Anita Schwemmer, West Valley City Acting Police Chief.
Next if you look at the 19 West Valley drug cases dismissed by the District Attorney, you'll notice Cowley and Salmon's names pop up there as well. Salmon is only mentioned on one case, but Cowley is mentioned in at least eight cases, and maybe more. West Valley police wouldn't confirm if anyone else from the unit is mentioned in the dismissed cases, but a Detective Franco is also mentioned eight times. Then Detective McCarthy, Terrill, Lund and Sgt. Hansen are all mentioned in three cases each.
Just like the FBI, the District Attorney tells ABC 4 he's now investigating the entire narcotics unit too. He believes the 19 drug cases that were thrown out, that the narcotics unit was involved in, are just the beginning.
"I don't have a set count but if our findings hold consistent there's going to be well over 100 cases," said Gill.
So far, Gill is only offering his estimate of additional cases he believed
Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @tv_briancarlson