Questions Remain in Utah Police’s Shooting of Danielle Williard

Published On January 23, 2013 | By CopBlock | Articles
Danielle Willard

Danielle Willard, who was murdered by Utah police in November 2011

For a third time since she was killed three months ago, family, friends, and supporters will be gathering outside the West Valley, Utah Police station to demand answers. This protest is scheduled for January 22nd, which would have been Danielle’s 22nd birthday. Instead it has become a grim reminder of her death, November 2nd 2011, at the hands of detectives working for the West Valley Police Department, which is located in the Salt lake City area (see end of post for a map).

Details from the Facebook event invite:

Please join us on 1/22 at 3:00 pm as we gather together in honor of Danielle Willard and celebrate her birthday she would have been 22. West Valley Police shot and killed Danielle on Nov 2nd while she sat in her car unarmed and still have refused to give any sort of explanation as to why.

In spite of the two previous protests and considerable questions being raised about why a physically small, unarmed young woman was shot, police have been extremely secretive about any of the reasons or justifications behind the case. More information regarding the circumstances surrounding her death can be found within this previous post at NVCopBlock.org:

Danielle Willard, a small, unarmed young woman, was shot and killed Nov. 2, 2012 by West Valley, Ut. police

The handling of it all by local police has made many people not just in Utah, but all across the country, question how and why such a small, unarmed woman barely out of her teens with no known history of violent behavior ended up becoming the latest in a growing list of “collateral damage” from the government’s disastrous War on Drugs.

On Nov. 2, 2012, Danielle Willard was shot and killed by undercover police working for the West Valley, Utah police department. Apparently, she was killed during an attempted drug bust, although even that is a bit speculative at this point because police have yet to confirm much of anything about what happened that day.

“The family of a 21-year-old woman killed in an officer-involved shooting yesterday await answers in her death. So far, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the shooting at this apartment complex.

We still don’t know why officers shot and killed Danielle Willard. Her family says, she wasn’t a violent person but drugs may have been her downfall.

Willard’s mother, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, is anxious for information to come out.

“Everything that keeps going through my mind is speculation,” said Melissa Kennedy. “Did she get back on drugs? Was she really clean? Was it the wrong place at the wrong time?”

Willard was shot Friday and killed by undercover officers in the parking lot of an apartment complex in West Valley. Police used white sheets to cover her body from public view. Authorities aren’t saying what led to the shooting.”

Danielle Willard During “Brighter” Days

In fact, police have refused to even comment officially on such basic things as Danielle’s identity or even whether she is male or female. Purportedly, this silence is due to an ongoing investigation into the shooting and the events surrounding it. However, such rudimentary details have not only already been made public by Danielle’s family and friends, but are hardly something that would interfere with an investigation.

Those family and friends are understandably questioning that silence, especially since police normally have no problem releasing information that supports their officers’ version of events. Without any of that information, they are left to try and make sense of why police would need to kill Danielle, which is hard to reconcile with their own memories of her:

“Melissa Kennedy knows her daughter wasn’t perfect.

But she doesn’t understand what it is that her daughter did so wrong that prompted West Valley police to shoot and kill her…

 

‘…Danielle is a sweetheart. She’s got a big heart. She would give the clothes off her back for anybody. I used to get mad at her because she would use so much gas in our car because someone would want a ride home. She couldn’t tell them no,’ Kennedy said…

 

‘…She’s never been known to be a violent person. She’s 100 pounds soaking wet. She’s only 21 years old. She’s a tiny little thing. What could she possibly have done, other than having a gun, what could she have done to provoke them to shoot her?…I’ve never ever known her to keep a gun with her or anywhere around here,’ Kennedy said…

 

‘…Kayleen (Willard) said she admired her older sister.’I always wanted to be like her. She always inspired me, because she was always so happy. She always seemed to be the crowd pleaser. She always seemed to brighten up a room,’ Willard said. ‘She was an inspiration to me, she made me be the person I am today. She made me want to be a better person growing up. She will always be in my thoughts and my heart, and she’s in a better place right now and I’ll see her again some day.’”

In spite of the silent treatment from West Valley police, some details about that day have gotten out. As might be expected, those details don’t paint the undercover cops that killed Danielle in a very good light. Based on independent witnesses that have come forward and the limited admissions that detectives assigned to the case have made themselves several things have been established:

  • Danielle was not armed, nor were there any guns found within the vehicle where she was killed. (As confirmed by detectives)

 

  • Danielle was actually a passenger in her own vehicle and was attempting to seek cover by ducking down within the car at the time of the shooting.

 

  • It’s unlikely that Danielle was the target of the ill-fated drug bust. Whether she was in some way involved with drugs again or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time is unknown. However, even if she was that by itself would in no way justify her death.

 

  • An unidentified male, who fled the scene and was probably the one being targeted by the undercover cops, was driving the car. (Detectives Danielle’s mother spoke to actually denied that this person was present, which only raises more questions about why deadly force was necessary.)

 

  • According to the autopsy, Danielle was shot first in the cheek and then fatally in the top of her skull, which supports the witness accounts that she was ducking down at the time she was shot.

Demand Justice for Danielle Willard

The every day abuses and unintended negative consequences of the War on Drugs, as well as the selective nature of that war, should be enough to cause outrage at the unnecessary death of yet another person whose only real “crime” was an act which by itself only harms the person committing that act. No matter what your stance on drug use and its effect on those who become addicted, it should be apparent that the harm caused by drug prohibitions far outweigh any positive effects of such policies.

The bottom line is Danielle Willard should never have been killed in the first place and those who care about her deserve answers for why she was murdered in spite of being unarmed and, by all accounts, not acting in any aggressive manner at all. Unfortunately, police are in no hurry to provide those answers.

There are several ways that you can help seek justice for Danielle:

If you are in or have the ability to travel to West Valley, Ut., join those who will be there at the rallies to support them as they demand that justice in person. Other options to contribute from a distance include donating funds to offset funeral costs and the costs of traveling from Washington, where her family lives, to Utah. This is the link to do that via an online fundraiser. Yet another option is to call the West Valley Police Department at (801) 963-3300 or (801) 965-5155 and let them know that you want justice for Danielle.

View West Valley Police Department 3600 Constitution Blvd in a larger map
Kelly W. Patterson, founder NVCopBlock

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  • Common Sense

    …hmmm, I don’t think this will break well for Morman PD.

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  • shawn

    Police aren’t so secretive when it is us. But when it is themselves being called out , all of a sudden an investigation needs to be kept so dark no one knows if one is even being done. And then they get surprised and angry at accusations of a cover up. Accusations they are hopping public attention will go away.

    This is what happens when police investigate their own.

  • t.

    As a former drug detective….there could be any number of reasons why information hasn’t come out.

    My question for the author is this…What does the DA say? Has this been sealed for some reason? From a distance that’s what it looks like. If it has been sealed, there must be a compelling reason for a judge to do that, especially with an OIS.

    But did this happen 3 months ago or 2 years ago? 3 months isn’t very long and really shouldn’t cause any concern. 2 years ago like the article says is a different story.

  • certain

    Boy, you’ve done everything, huh? Drug, SWAT, probably even a stint in the bomb squad, huh?

    News flash, bright eyes – Phrases like “As a former drug detective” scream “I’m actually a mall cop”.

  • http://www.policemisconduct.net Glenn

    I think certain is on to something. I bet common sense and the other boot-lickers are pimply faced police explorer wanna-be’s that have been assigned the scutwork of trawling the internet forums. Who else would want to do such a meaningless job?

  • Dan Sayers

    @t: November 2011 is 14 months ago. Not 3 months or 2 yrs. And no, there is NEVER justification in the authoritative body that WE PAY FOR not answering ANY of our questions in regard to the duty we’re paying them to perform. ANY time you see “authorities” taking longer than is necessary to do something, they are trying to find a way to cover themselves and/or stalling in hopes that public interest in consequences dies down.

  • d0nj3nko

    HaHaHa…. Common Sense, certain and t…. LOL… All boot licking mall cop’s trying to suck their way in!!!! LOLOLOL I bet they even troll this site and many others for free…lolololol the complete muppets hahahaha! I feel sorry for em now lololol… No I don’t lololol… Good call Glenn!

    God bless us all!

  • t.

    @dan: allow me to point YOU to the very first sentence, of the very first paragraph that say she was killed 3 months ago. Don’t blame me….I didn’t write that. A d the questions still stands… 3 months or 14 months? BIG differnece there smart guy.

    @certain: You can check back. Unlike your buddy centurion who lies so much that he can’t keep his lies straight and his story constantly changes. My resume is consistant, because it is true. I have worked for 2 Fortune 500 top ten corporations. I hen way more run halved my salary to become a poli e officer as the need is huge. Ive spent 17 years in various assignments with 2 agencies. Ive worked for a 70 man department and a 1000+ man department. I’ve worked petrol, special operations, drugs & vice, and been on SWAT. I’ve done all as both an officer, FTO, and a supervisor. Done just about everything but SRO, k9 and the bomb squad. I’ve had a varied career with lots of exposure. I’ve worked in both the state and federal systems (court wise and with task forces).

    Dude, my story has never waviered. I come here sometimes for the hilarious nature of it and the ridiculous people here. But I comment from a position of vast experience, training and personal knowledge. I hope that someone may gleem a little knowledge and in there next police encounter won’t do something stupid that will get them in trouble. Kinda like my advice about the “never talk to the police” mantra that is repeated around here. That is most often (nearly always) a very bad idea.

    That is why I can comment intelligently about OIS’s and how they are investigated. Been there. Been asked the questions. (I haven’t shot anyone but I have been present on several). My first comment on this article is spot on. There is most likely way more to the story here and there is probably something else going on.

    @glenn=liar: Well, I quests glenn=liar says it all.

  • YankeeFan

    How does talking to the police help you if you are the target of the investigation? How does closing your mouth hurt you? Everything you say is used against you, not for you. Only cops believe it is helpful to talk to the police. Would you like stories of persons who did talk to the police, who were innocent, who ended up spending years/decades behind bars?

  • BluEyeDevil

    Hey T. and Common Sense,
    Hopefully someone shoots your daughter in the face and chooses to keep the evidence secret. Hypocrites.

  • http://www.policemisconduct.net Glenn

    BluEyeDevil, if those two idiots common sense and t., had any kids, they would be raping them themselves.

  • YankeeFan

    Lets not confuse if you talk tell the truth as judges do get mad. Ill stick with the officer in the video who agrees with his law professor speaker as to why you NEVER talk to the police as he gives his own real life examples he dealt with and how the perp, by talking, screwed himself. Once againb as we have covered this, if I am in your interrogation room and you are in my face barking at me, all I need to do is look you in your pretty blues and say….prove it! If I do not speak, you have dick, less that dick in fact. If I do choose to speak, I better be honest or else the judge hammers me.

    Here is the video again and I know you will not watch it but the points the professor makes such as: The pop quiz he gives about a crime story and how people do not pay attention to details. One good reason why you do not speak to the police. The inocuous running example he gives in which one small slip up on your part by talking can haunt you. The real life examples of 2 honest to god innocent men that spent lots of years behind bars by talking to the police. One being told if he confessed, it would help the police smoke out the real killers. They were really innocent.

    The 60 minutes investigation of the Chicago PD into their interrogation practices in which they highlighted the stories of a group of black men who confessed after they were questioned over several hours where police had their confessions ready. They were innocent as in 1 case, the dna from a known rapist/murderer was found in the body where no evidence linking them to the crime was present. The DA, the same cunt who wants to keep the Illinois wiretapping law alive tried to say that they confessed so thats good enough and tried to say that they may have killed her but the other guy who is a known criminal may have committed an act of necrophelia. The point being, had they shut their mouths and not said a word(they were in their teens at the time)they might not have spend some 14 years in jail. Below is the link to the 60 minutes story of once again, innocent men who spent half their life in jail talking to the police and confessing to crimes they didnt commit. Remember, they were teens and hardly mature enough to deal with a group of seasoned cops who do not gives 2 fucks if innocent people are in jail as long as they make an arrest.

    http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/2012/12/24/illinois-eavesdropping-law-finally-dead-state-attorneys-career-also-likely-dead/

    So I will ask one more time. If I sit in a room with you in my face telling me shit such as: sign this or else, you better fucking talk and etc and I sit there with a big ole coca-cola smile and say nothing, how does that hurt me? You can’t give me one vaild answer because it doesn’t. As the law professor puts it, we do not know what the police have..thats all the reason we have to keep our mouths shut until we do know what they have as talking to you only helps you gain a conviction!

  • YankeeFan
  • BluEyeDevil

    LOL, T., Buddy you come here sometimes! You are a LIAR and it seems a professional LIAR according to your resume, LOL. You just seem to be on this forum everyday and all the time. The reason I know this is because you have commented immediately after I have posted on several occasions. Shut your hole man, all you have said in my book is that your a leach, by profession, sucking on the states tits. Your a thief, a LIAR, and a fascist in the purist form.
    Real men make their own way in this world by doing for themselves through hard work and getting our hands dirty to produce something, you just a leach. Your nothing. Go brag to your fellow thieves and honor yourself about how great you are. They are the only ones who give a shit about your sociopathic over inflated ego, you piece of shit. You have never worked, really worked, a day in your life according to your self absorbed resume. Your a joke and a coward.

  • t.

    YF: I’ve seen the video before. Not really all that impressive. Very biased. But I guess I should clarify:

    IF you have something to hide, don’t speak to the polic
    IF you don’t have anything to hide…you are usually far better of speaking to the police.

    LAWYERS will always tell you to never speak with the police. They want you to pay them a lot of money and then have you talk to the police.

    But I really just think you are confusing what I’m talking about. IF you are caught up and are the subject of a serious investigation, I would recommend to seek advice too. I’ve actually toldsuspects that iI wouldn’t interview them without an attorney because they were so screwed.

    What I’m talking about are the street encounters, the lesser incidents that frequent this site. As I’ve described before…as example. If I get called to an assault. There is evidence that there was definitely physical contact. I’ve got the caller telling me that you assaulted them, without pro vacation. Now a come and knock on you door. If you decide to follow the juvenile idea of a) not answering the door or b) just refusing to talk with. Now you can do either, and that’s OK. But IFyou were the one who was attacked and you were just protecting yourself, but chose to leave me to make a decision based only on one side of the story…you’re most likely going to get arrested when you shouldn’t. And probably convicted to. But you certainly don’t have to talk to the police.

    Don’t take it to the extreme. Stay near the middle where the normal people. Don’t go all Cop Block crazy about it.

  • http://www.badgeabuse.com badgeabuse

    @T But I comment from a position of vast experience, training and personal knowledge.

    Do they train you to shoot for the head?

  • YankeeFan

    Just saw this one on Injusticeeverywhere about a police officer accused of petty larceny. She did what most in telligent people do…get a lawyer and if you read the short article and look at his comments I am willing to bet he did not tell her to talk to the police!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/fairfax-police-officer-arrested-in-theft/2013/01/22/fe93c7b2-64d7-11e2-9e1b-07db1d2ccd5b_blog.html

  • http://www.badgeabuse.com badgeabuse

    Yankee fan ….thanks for the link…I know this LEO :) to funny

  • cookie

    Are there any normal pictures of this girl available? She looks like a retard in every one.

  • t.

    Abuse: yes and no. You do various firearms drills to include body armor drills. At times youshoot at the target presented. And there also is the hhuman tendency to shoot at what you are looking at. A good example kfthat is a very experienced SWAT operator thatt I know. A barricaded subject pointed a 12 game. Shotgun at him and the team. He was the shield operator on that (for him, he worked the sbeildall the time) and he snot the guy twice in the same hand…looking at the gun…shot at the gun. So, yes and no.

  • t.

    @Sayers: Did you read that first sentence yet ? ? ?

  • shawn

    Back to the original point, T do you really expect people to believe secrecy is needed for the investigation over cops trying to bury the story? They apparently wont tell the family squat, and all known information says she didn’t deserve a bullet. Would that really be so acceptable to you in their shoes?
    They want to either know why she had to die, or accountability for her murder. But those responsible are being shielded in classic fashion. We’ve all seen this before. Eric Holder and Fast and Furious for one.

    If it were some malitia or something, the cops would not hesitate to tell all. When it is their own, silence rules. Governments and their agents, police, DA, ect have a vested interest in never accepting responsibility for their wrongs. If they say they messed up, the suit is a slam dunk. But they control the investigation. Again, internal investigation is an oxymoron.

  • t.

    Shawn: Again, was it 3 months or 14? BIG difference. If its 3, heck the investigation could very likely not be done. 14 months it a lot harder to understand, but there is so much missing from this article that’s its hard to say. Like what happened to the other guy that is mentioned being involved in the drug deal? What were her ties to him? What drugs are in her system? And that’s not even taking into account any larger investigation that may be on going in relation to said other guy and his activities. Just as example…I be several “tarnished badges” type cases. Some of them required me to keep information from my Chief while that investigation was under way. It ran about 2 1/2 years before the parts I was involved with was over and I could talk about it. If there really isn’t any information coming out….there may be amuch bigger thing going on. If this ffamily want answers…they should follow up with the DA and maybe their state attorney general. Protesting at the police station that I giving you the information you want just makes no sense to me.

  • Chris Mallory

    The mere fact that the detective was undercover means his is a habitual liar. Nothing an undercover government employee says should be believed. It is already established that he is a professional liar.

    If we had judges that actually supported the Constitution then all government undercover actions would be held to violate the 4th and 5th Amendments.

  • t.

    @mallory: I have to ask, how, even in your twisted world, does working under cover violate you 4,5,6 or any amendment rights? You are truly colossally dumb.

  • t.

    Mallory: I have got to ask….how, in your colossally dumb mind, does working under cover violate a tones 4,5 or any other amendment rights??? Dude, each time I think you’ve said something as dumb as you possibly could…you somehow manage new heights of stupidity

  • YankeeFan

    As far as the Video, there is not a damn thing biased. The advice is sound and the eample is something that very well could happen When you have a police officer agreeing with a lawyer, yous hould atleast take notic3e. I am not saying never talk to the police. It is situational at at best. The whole, only people who have soemthing to hide never talk is bullshit. How many innocent people went to prison ebcause they did talk to the police? The 60 minutes video is a great example. If they had not talked and forced the cops to do their jobs they would not have spent half their lives in jail but they talked, were lied to and were convicted of crimes they did not do.

    It is not all cop block. As bas as it is to say..never talk to the police all the time. It is equally bad to say..talk to us all the time. A good lawyer will properly advise his cleint. I told you before I worked with a guy who did 2 terms in folsom for meth. The first time he had his dad hire the best law firm in sacramento. He was told by them after they reviewed the case to plea or go to jail for life as they ahd pics of him in mexico with drug lords and he took the deal and did 6 instead of 60. I told you before that there is no cop you even work with that will if suspected of crimes or some involvement of any type or level of crime or even arrested that will start talking until they have had a lawyer hired as the lawyer in the video puts it, I dont know what they have so its in our best interest to be quiet until we know more.

    Its not a cop block conspiracy and its true most do talk as the detective in that video even states most if not all do. I do not think its bad to get a lawyer anytime even for a street crime as you put it as it is their money to spend, even on a case where they are screwed.

  • YankeeFan

    As far as your example, I agree. If I was the guy attacked, then hell yes I would talk and make a police report on my own. Im only talking about if youa re suspected of or are arrested , then no I will say do not talk to or give a statement to the police until you have some clue as to what youa re facing and sometimes a lawyer is going to help. It also is true that lawyers want money, thus the jokes about them but why do cops want you to talk? It helps them make their case easier.

  • t.

    YF: Ok I guess. But I have to totally disagree with you about officers talkng. It’s usually just the opposite. When things happen when I off duty…I stay and help the police. Over been to MANY, MANY instances in ok I g officer who were off duty. They are always there. Maybe it’s because, like I said earlier, that if I know something happened, and I only get one side of the story, it’s pretty easy to see what the outcome will be. Most things are exactly what the appear to be…but if only part of the story gets told…

    If you are questioned about something serious, it’s like said, you’d be smart to have an attorney. But if its something more like what I described, say a street fight, and you leave and I get there and see the caller all beat up and he tells me you assaulted him, and there’s clear evidence of violence…and you aren’t there (or you are there and refuse to talk) to explain that you didn’t start it…you will most likely end up arrested. That’s where it’s bad advice. And that plays out to all kinds of situations

  • 23f23g23f3f32f

    It sounds like this entire department is corrupt. The cop who shot her fabricated evidence in other cases. The Mayor is completely insane.

    What else would we expect from the losers who put themselves into leadership positions? They are all animals.