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Family of woman killed by West Valley police demands answers

By Sandra Yi | Posted - Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 6:56pm

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WEST VALLEY CITY &#8212 The family of a woman shot and killed in November by West Valley police mourned her on her birthday Tuesday while demanding answers and accountability from the police.

In the second protest family and supporters have had in the name of Danielle Willard, they asked people to call the Salt Lake County District Attorney and demand the officers involved in her shooting death face criminal charges.

West Valley City police shot Willard, who was from Washington, twice in the head Nov. 2 during an undercover drug investigation. Police have largely kept quiet about the details of the shooting, but West Valley Police Sgt. Amy Maurer said at the time that two detectives had been contacting someone as part of an investigation. The detectives were thought to have been undercover at the time of the incident.

Willard's mother, Melissa Kennedy, told KSL in December that Willard had battled drug addiction in the past, and that she had moved to Utah to get help with it. Now, Kennedy is grieving her daughter instead of celebrating Willard's 22nd birthday.

That grief is made worse by not knowing exactly why her daughter was shot and killed by police, she said.

"Of course we'd rather be having cake and celebrating her birthday with her family," she said. "I will never know her as an adult. I will never know her as a mother or a wife or a grown up. She will always be a child, and they took that away from me."

Protesters stood outside City Hall on Tuesday demanding answers and accountability in the case.

"Here we are almost three months later, they haven't said anything," said Willard's former roommate, Krystle Harrison. "I would be a fool to think that this is going to be justified in the end."

The West Valley City Police Department said in a statement that it's working with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office to finish the investigation.

"We are sensitive to the family's concerns and we beg their indulgence in understanding that in order for us to complete an exhaustive investigation and to maintain the integrity of that investigation the team of investigators must move through all of the evidence in a methodical way," they said.

For some, the lack of answers raises suspicion. Willard's mother said she'll reserve judgement for now, but she's frustrated.

"Justice for me would be to find out the truth," she said. "I mean, the real truth."

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his staff met with police last week for an update on the investigation, but that his role is limited until the police present their case to the D.A.'s office to be screened.

Contributing: Stephanie Grimes


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