DA will review West Valley drug cases

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:57 PM

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake County district attorney who dismissed a raft of drug cases out of West Valley City for lack of credibility is reconsidering his decision on a case-by-case basis.

Sim Gill said he dropped more than 100 cases because West Valley's city attorney refused to vouch for the character of the officers involved after an internal review found some of them mishandled evidence and kept souvenirs from drug busts.

"Theoretically, we can go back and file on some of those cases, but that will be a narrow analysis, on a case-by-case, officer-by-officer basis," Gill told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Gill added that "our cases were dismissed with certain officers in mind, not the Neighborhood Narcotics Unit as a whole."

West Valley attorney Eric Bunderson told the newspaper he couldn't respond earlier to Gill because he was conducting his own review of West Valley's troubled drug unit.

Bunderson said he was ready to disclose any possible credibility problems of each officer. He plans to act within a week.

West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle said four of nine officers on the drug unit have been cleared of wrongdoing. He declined to identify any of the officers.

The internal review was prompted by an officer-involved shooting death last November of 21-year-old Danielle Willard, who was unarmed.

Investigators were staking out an apartment complex where they said Willard appeared to have purchased drugs. When officers approached her, she put her car in reverse and the two officers fired. Gill has ruled the shooting unjustified and is investigating whether criminal charges are warranted against the officers.

Attorneys for Willard's parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against West Valley, alleging a pattern of misconduct and corruption by officers.


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