Detective Cowley’s termination is not valid until he or his attorney have been properly served with the city’s decision to terminate. – Lindsay Jarvis

WEST VALLEY CITY — West Valley City officials will extend the salary and benefits of a police detective they fired last week because he wasn't properly notified.

Lindsay Jarvis, the attorney for officer Shaun Cowley, said an "unofficial email" she received last week from a West Valley police employee notifying her of the department's intent to fire Cowley was not in line with the city's Civil Service Commission rules.

“Detective Cowley’s termination is not valid until he or his attorney have been properly served with the city’s decision to terminate,” Jarvis said in a letter sent to West Valley City on Monday.

City spokesman Aaron Crim said the city sent an email on Thursday at the same time they sent Cowley a letter informing him of his termination. "We found out that the letter was supposed to be certified," he said Monday.

A certified letter was mailed late Monday afternoon.

In the letter, Jarvis said that once her client is properly served, an official appeal of his termination will follow.

"We can't actually go forward until they do their job correctly," she said, which would be through a certified letter or face-to-face notification.

Crim said Cowley's salary and benefits have been extended until the city is notified that the letter was received.

Jarvis said the letter she wrote Monday is a “notice to the city of its inability to follow proper rules and procedures as outlined in the West Valley City Civil Service Commission rules.”

Cowley has been serving as a "scapegoat," Jarvis said, adding that the evidence will show that other officers who worked with Cowley in the department's embattled Neighborhood Narcotics Unit "conducted themselves the same way if not worse (than Cowley)."

Cowley was fired Thursday from the police force two weeks after the department received a new chief. Cowley and the now disbanded Neighborhood Narcotics Unit came under investigation after he shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard in an undercover operation last November. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined that the Willard shooting was not legally justified and is debating whether to file criminal charges against him and detective Kevin Salmon.

Cowley's termination was not connected to his role in Willard's death, said West Valley Police Chief Lee Russo. Jarvis, however, believes otherwise.

Following the shooting, investigators said they found items of evidence not involved in the Willard case in the trunk of Cowley's police car. That led to an investigation of the unit and the discovery of six problem areas: undisclosed amounts of missing drugs and money, officers taking souvenirs from drug-related crime scenes, the use of GPS trackers without a warrant, improper use of confidential informants, improper handling of evidence within the drug unit, and officers taking small amounts of cash and other items from seized vehicles.


Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam