A story in The New York Times this week sheds more light on the death of Danielle Willard, a 21-year-old Vancouver woman who was shot and killed by police in Utah on Nov. 2.
According to the story, authorities believe Willard had gone to a run-down apartment complex in the Salt Lake suburb of West Valley City to buy drugs. Several undercover officers for the West Valley City police force were also at the apartment complex and allegedly saw Willard buying drugs. When they approached her silver Subaru Forester, they say she backed up in their direction, striking one officer. The officers then drew their weapons and shot her in the head.
For weeks afterward, police refused to disclose what had happened or why Willard was killed. Public pressure mounted, and allegations of widespread misconduct within the department’s narcotics unit began to surface. Subsequently, the narcotics unit has been disbanded and several investigations have been launched.
Willard’s mother, Melissa Kennedy of Vancouver, is quoted in the Times story as saying her daughter was a goofy and bubbly girl who had fallen into narcotics addiction in high school. Willard had moved to Utah to obtain treatment, but afterward fell in with her old friends.
Kennedy has filed a federal civil rights suit against West Valley City, the Times noted.