SALT LAKE COUNTY, UT – The Utah Fraternal Order of Police has filed an ethics complaint alleging that Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has made inappropriate statements to the media about an officer-involved shooting in West Valley City.
The Fraternal Order of Police filed the complaint last week with the Utah State Bar in connection to former West Valley City police Detective Shaun Cowley, who has been charged with manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of Danielle Willard.
“Presenting evidence in the media and making statements that taint the jury pool violates due process for the accused,” said F.O.P. spokesman Brent Jex.
Gill, who was out of town Thursday, said he had not seen the complaint.
Cowley’s attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, filed a separate complaint with the State Bar this week. She declined to comment further.
The F.O.P. was particularly concerned about comments insinuating that all officers with West Valley City’s now-disbanded Neighborhood Narcotics Unit were “bad cops,” Jex said.
Gill has dismissed more than 100 cases investigated by the unit, of which Cowley was a member and which faced intense scrutiny following Willard’s death on allegations of mishandling evidence and illegally using GPS tracking devices.
Jex said the F.O.P. first spoke with Gill and his top prosecutors about media statements in 2012, when F.O.P. representatives accused Gill of making inflammatory comments about West Valley City police Officer Jared Cardon, who was charged with reckless endangerment for shooting at a fleeing motorist. Gill later dropped the charges.
“We said, ‘Look, you can’t try this in the media. This is for a judge and jury,’” Jex said.
“We had problems there. He did it again last August [when the Willard shooting was deemed unjustified], and he did it again when he announced the charges.”