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Family of teenager killed in 2018 police shooting speaks on $4M Cottonwood Heights settlement

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 23:24:43-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Late last week, the City of Cottonwood Heights announced that its insurance provider had settled with the family of Zane James for $4,000,000.

The 19-year-old was shot and killed by a Cottonwood Heights police officer in 2018.

“It’s my understanding this settlement amount is the largest police misconduct settlement in Utah history and I think that’s important and meaningful,” said Sam Meziani, the James’ family attorney. “The family can never move forward from something like this, there’s no way the family can move on, but at least the family won’t be involved in hard fought litigation any longer.”

In May, 2018, James was suspected of robbing two grocery stores while armed with an airsoft gun.

According to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, James took off on a dirtbike. Then-Officer Casey Davies hit James with his car and then fired four shots, hitting James with two. James died days later.

After reopening the case, the DA's office said there is no evidence that James posed a threat to anyone at that time when he was hit. The officers initial use-of-force was deemed ‘not justified.’

“He still hasn’t re-ruled on the shooting and we’ve provided him all the evidence so he has that capability to do so,” said Tiffany James, Zane James’ mother on Tuesday night, saying she’d like to see more action taken against those involved. “What we know today is that Officer Davies broke the law, Utah law, he also broke Cottonwood Heights policy and he should be charged criminally for that.”

The family hopes this case brings change when it comes to community policing, policy reform and helps others in a similar situation.

“Four years later and our entire family unit [is] just struggling to get through this and now we can try to do something better with this,” said James.

FOX 13 News reached out to the City of Cottonwood Heights for an interview, which was declined on Tuesday.

Cottonwood Heights released a statement late last week that reads in part:

While the city knows no amount of money will be sufficient to assuage the loss of their son, the city hopes that this settlement brings closure for all parties. It is important to note that nothing in this settlement admits to any wrongdoing on the part of the city or its former police officer involved with the shooting, which is consistent with the findings of the Salt Lake County District Attorney that Officer Davies was justified in the shooting and there were no prosecutable findings from their review.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers released this statement:

The city did not support the decision to settle these lawsuits, as we believed the cases in both federal and state courts were on a trajectory to be dismissed. Nevertheless, we respect the Trust’s decision to bring closure to this matter and to eliminate risks associated with a potential jury trial influenced by current anti-law enforcement attitudes in society today. We fully support our police and the very difficult job they have in keeping our community safe. We extend our sincere condolences to the James family on the loss of their son. 

“The city says it’s a business decision, it’s kind of a cold way to look at life,” said Meziani.