Protesters demand answers in police shooting

Posted at 3:19 PM, Jan 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-22 17:19:22-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - Family and friends of a woman shot and killed by a West Valley City police officer in November gathered in protest on Tuesday.

During a Nov. 2 altercation with West Valley City Police officers at the Lexington Park apartments located near 2200 West and 3700 South, fatally shot Danielle Willard.

Police have said that officers were there for a drug investigation and that some sort of altercation occurred that required them to use deadly force, but few details have been released.

Danielle’s body was found on the passenger side of her Subaru. Witnesses at the scene allegedly told Melissa Kennedy, Danielle's mother, that someone else was driving the car, but Kennedy said police told her that her daughter was alone.

Kennedy also said police told her they’d confirmed that Danielle was unarmed, and there were no weapons in her car.

Danielle's family and friends say the information released by the WVC PD about the incident is insufficient. Melissa Kennedy said in a press release from the group Justice for Danielle that the lack of information surrounding her daughter’s case is unacceptable.

“Danielle was an innocent victim of police violence, and we want answers,” she said. “The police are not going to get away with this, and we’re not going to let them cover-up Danielle’s death or let them forget it either.”

Danielle would have been 22 years old on Tuesday, and supporters protested outside of the West Valley City Police Department to demand that Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill fire the officers involved in the incident and put them on trial, according to the press release.

According to a post on the group’s website, the group is encouraging supporters to call Gill and demand the officers involved be put on trial.

Krystle Harrison, Danielle's former roommate, talked to FOX 13 on Tuesday, saying that Danielle had fallen in with the wrong crowd and asked another police agency for help.

"Five days before she was killed, she called the police four different times to our apartment...about the people hanging out there," Harrison said. "She was scared of them and wanted the police to come and help her."

Harrison says Danielle had apparently met the people at work and given one some help, but when she wanted them to leave her apartment, they refused.

"I guess she met them at work and one of them needed some help or a ride home. They wanted to stay at the apartment. She didn't want them there and when she locked them out, the officer told me that they climbed the balcony to let themselves back in and one of them attacked her," Harrison said.

Those people, Harrison said, appear to have been involved with illegal drugs, and she wonders whether they were involved with a drug investigation West Valley City police were looking at on the day Willard was shot.

"I think they were investigating the people she had hanging around and that's how she got involved," Harrison said.

The West Valley City Police Department released a statement on the matter on Tuesday, which said in part:

"The West Valley City Police Department and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office have been working together toward the completion of this investigation. We are sensitive to the family's concerns, and we beg their indulgence in understanding that in order for us to complete an exhaustive investigation, and to maintain the integrity of that investigation, the team of investigators must move through all of the evidence in a methodical way. This effort requires patience and commitment from all parties."

Meanwhile, family is asking witnesses to the incident to contact Kennedy's lawyer with any information that can help to the toll free number 855-9-JUSTICE (855-958-7842). All information will be kept confidential.