WEST VALLEY CITY -- The FBI has agreed to investigate allegations of corruption within the West Valley City police department's disbanded drug unit amid reports of a cover-up involving the officer-involved shooting death of an unarmed woman.
FBI spokeswoman Deborah Bertram confirmed that her agency's Salt Lake City office has taken the investigation but declined further comment.
West Valley City acting police chief Anita Schwemmer said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference that her department has already been working with the FBI but asked for a full investigation to restore trust in the agency among residents in this Salt Lake City suburb.
"This gives us the opportunity to have someone else outside of this department look at our department to see if any of those things occurred," Schwemmer said.
Schwemmer said there will be two separate investigations: One looking at the November fatal shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Misha Willard and another focusing on possible corruption and civil rights violations within the drug unit, which was dissolved in December.
In March, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced in March that his office was dropping 19 drug cases from West Valley City due to a lack of credible evidence. The case dismissals were triggered by an investigation that involves one particular West Valley City police officer.
The cases which span from 2008 to 2012, mostly involve drug offenses and were in various stages of the legal process when Gill moved to dismiss them. In some cases, only initial documents had been filed while others were ready for trial.
Gill and West Valley City police have declined to name the officer involved, but court records show detective Shaun Cowley appears in 18 of the 19 cases, more than any other officer. Cowley is also one of two officers involved in the shooting death of Willard.
An attorney for Willard's family has accused the police department of withholding and destroying evidence and alleges that the department has attempted to conceal details about the woman's death.
Schwemmer disputes that and says there has been no destruction or intent to destroy evidence and no cover-up regarding Willard's death.
The Utah Fraternal Order of Police has said it is confident Cowley will be cleared of any wrongdoing. Cowley's attorney didn't return calls from The Associated Press.
Schwemmer said Wednesday that there is no link between the two FBI investigations.
About an hour after West Valley City sent out a news release announcing the FBI involvement, the district attorney sent his own release saying it was actually the agency that requested the FBI investigation. He applauded West Valley City for agreeing to let the FBI take over.
"It speaks well to them to recognize that," Gill said. "The FBI will lend a level of transparency here and objectivity. Regardless of the good intentions of West Valley, it currently does not have the trust of our community."
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.