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DA declares Cottonwood Heights officer's use of force not justified in collision prior to 2018 police shooting

Insufficient evidence for criminal charges, however
Posted at 9:36 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-29 00:02:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined that an officer who caused 19-year-old Zane James to crash his motorbike before shooting him was not justified in that initial use of force.

This comes after new information about the shooting came to light earlier this year.

On May 29, 2018, police were chasing James, who was a suspect in a pair of armed robberies.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill previously said the shooting was justified.

However, the five-page letter released by his office today says it's likely that Cottonwood Heights Police Officer Casey Davies used his patrol car to hit James' motorcycle. The letter says if it was intentional, it could be seen as both the use of a dangerous weapon and use of deadly force.

"Once we know that that collision occurred and that vehicle is in fact, can be a, a dangerous weapon, with force likely to cause serious bodily injury or death, then we have to look to see that," said Gill.

The DA's office said there is no evidence that James posed a threat to anyone at that time.

For Gill, this is the first time in his 12-year tenure as the county's top prosecutor that he has reopened a case like this.

"There are some really strange circumstances in this particular thing, and I hope other law enforcement agencies will learn from this because... our analysis is only as good as the facts that we get," Gill said.

While the facts ultimately led Gill and his office to find that Officer Davies' actions prior to the shooting were unjustified, he said they won't be bringing any charges against the officer.

"We don't have sufficient evidence that we can go to court with to actually file the charges," said Gill.

Officer Davies refused to be interviewed or provide a statement to protocol investigators in 2022. It is something he also elected to do during the initial investigation into the shooting back in 2018.

An attorney for the James family shared a statement with FOX 13 News:

They say, in part, that the officer's statement of what took place in the investigated case would be admissible in court. The family does have a civil case pending against the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.

FOX 13 News reached out to the Cottonwood Heights Police Department on Friday about the latest findings from the district attorney, and they referred our inquiries to Officer Davies' attorneys. We reached out to them but have not heard back at this time.