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Former West Valley detective appears briefly in court

(Trent Nelson)

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Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Former West Valley police detective Shaun Cowley made a very brief initial appearance in court Tuesday morning.

Cowley was charged last month in 3rd District Court with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the 2012 shooting death of 21-year-old Danielle Willard during a botched drug operation.

In court Tuesday, Cowley and his attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, waived a reading of the charges and set a scheduling hearing for July 28. Two Unified police officers escorted Cowley in and out of the courtroom and stood guard as he appeared before the judge.

Cowley declined to speak to reporters outside the courtroom. His appearance in court lasted about two minutes.

Cowley is also named in a civil lawsuit filed by Melissa Kennedy, Willard's mother. The former detective is trying to have that case put on hold pending his criminal proceedings.

He also has a hearing scheduled next month in front of the West Valley Civil Service Commission in an attempt to have his firing overturned.

After the shooting of Willard, investigators found evidence from an unrelated case improperly stored in the trunk of Cowley's car. That discovery launched multiple investigations and led to the dismissal of 124 state and federal criminal cases tied to the now-disbanded West Valley Neighborhood Narcotics Unit.

In his appeal, Cowley blamed the improperly stored evidence on a "lack of supervision, and unestablished parameters of working undercover."


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