LOCAL NEWS

Criminal investigation reopened for ex-Cottonwood Heights officer in 2018 shooting     

Feb 17, 2022, 8:46 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:39 pm
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill determined Cottonwood Heights officer Casey Davis was j...
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill determined Cottonwood Heights officer Casey Davis was justified in shooting 19-year-old Zane James. In light of this new information, he’s reexamining the Casey Davis.

SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors are reopening their investigation into the 2018 Cottonwood Heights police shooting of a 19-year-old man who later died, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed Thursday.

Gill decided not to file criminal charges against officer Casey Davies more than three years ago, concluding the officer was justified in using deadly force on Zane Anthony James because Davies feared he was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.

But new information has surfaced as James’ family has raised concerns and Cottonwood Heights police have details to share, Gill said.

The district attorney has reviewed more than 100 cases of deadly force by police during 11 years as top Salt Lake County’s top prosecutor, but this is the first time he’s reexamined one of those decisions, he added.

“We’re in the process of gathering and digesting,” Gill said. “This has really, certainly risen to a point where we want to make sure that we reevaluate everything.”

The move follows new developments tied to a a civil lawsuit James’ family filed against Cottonwood Heights and the officer. James, who police had suspected of two armed robberies, was taken off life support after he was shot twice in his neighborhood.

His family contends Davies used his patrol car to hit James, who was traveling on a dirt bike, on May 29, 2018, but they say the Cottonwood Heights police omitted that detail in its statements to the press and public. They also say the department failed to correct its incorrect assertion in the days after the shooting that Davies was on his way to work and had not had a chance to pick up his body camera.

“My clients have always known the investigation was not complete,” said attorney Sam Meziani, who represents Aaron and Tiffany James. “My clients have always believed Cottonwood Heights has not been forthright and honest.”

Tiffany and Aaron James are the parents of Zane James. (KSL TV) Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill (KSL TV)

A lawyer representing Cottonwood Heights in the family’s federal civil lawsuit says the city stands behind its former officer and is aware of the reopened review.

“The city continues to maintain that Officer Davies used legal force in shooting Zane James,” attorney Heather White told KSL in a statement.  “The city stands behind its officers’ actions relating to the shooting and will continue to defend them against the James family’s claims.”

White has previously said the city is not withholding information or misrepresenting what happened. Rather, she told KSL last year that one discrepancy was due to an oversight and another was tied to the early release of information based on the observation of a single officer.

Davies’ attorney Jeremy Jones declined to talk about specifics, saying he hadn’t seen the updated documents and had not yet heard from Gill’s office. But he said he doesn’t expect the district attorney to reach a different conclusion.

“I don’t have any expectation that anything will turn out differently,” he said.

James’ parents contend the information about the crash and body camera was revealed in a statement officer Casey Davies gave in an internal police department review. Prosecutors are prohibited from considering the interview against the officer under a 1967 court decision. The ruling said officers have a Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify in criminal cases, but police departments can question them as part of internal reviews.

However, Cottonwood Heights police added the details about the car crash and body camera in an update last week to the 2018 police report on the shooting.  Gill is not precluded from considering the report like he is the internal statement, but he wouldn’t talk to KSL about specifics.

“On its face right now, it raises certain concerns that we need to settle. Or rule out. Or give legs to,” Gill said. “It would be premature for me to prejudge this.”

A Feb. 8 update to the police report says a Cottonwood Heights sergeant was preparing for a deposition in the civil case and told a supervisor about a short conversation he’d had with Davies at the scene of the shooting.

Davies “made a comment about being at CHPD in the locker room, getting dressed for duty, and he ran out to assist. He said he forgot his body worn camera,” the report states. “Officer Davies also commented about bumping the motorcycle with his police vehicle and the suspect reaching in his waistband.”

Lt. Dan Bartlett noted in the Feb. 8 police report that he requested Salt Lake police reopen their investigation and also told Gill’s office.

“It’s unfortunate for my clients that they’ve had to go through the civil discovery process to actually get the facts they should have been released early on,” Meziani said.

He notes Davies previously faced discipline for violating the department’s policy.

In 2015 Davies faced a four-hour suspension for violating department policy by using a “pit maneuver” (intentionally bumping another car during a chase) after tailing a suspect’s vehicle through a parking lot and onto a road, according to documents Meziani provided to KSL.

“Officer Davies failed to objectively and continuously weigh the seriousness of the offense against the potential danger to innocent motorists and members of the public when he elected to pursue the suspect,” the disciplinary report states.

In 2017, while apprehending a suspect who resisted arrest, Davies “used closed-hand blows as well as impact weapons strikes” and his body camera was knocked off, but it wasn’t activated beforehand, the document says. He was given a verbal warning. Utah law require officers to turn on the cameras before an encounter with someone “or as soon as reasonably possible.”

A pending bill at the Utah Legislature, HB399, would restrict the public’s access to police or other public employees’ statements in internal investigations, like the one Davies gave to Cottonwood Heights after the shooting.

The measure, sponsored Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, is scheduled for debate Friday morning in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Former longtime Murray Mayor Dan Snarr is photographed on Dec. 13, 2013. Snarr, 73, was charged Thu...
Pat Reavy

Former Murray mayor accused of spitting in driver’s face in road rage case

The former longtime mayor of Murray has been charged with spitting in the face of another driver during a road rage incident.
16 hours ago
Handcuffs in a jail cell FILE PHOTO (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...
Pat Reavy

Sandy man threatened to kill parents after shooting TVs, police say

A Sandy man was charged Friday with shooting two televisions and threatening to kill his parents and go on a killing spree.
16 hours ago
FILE PHOTO...
KSL.com

West Jordan man arrested in child porn, voyeurism investigation

A man who described himself to police as being highly skilled with computers has been arrested for allegedly possessing child porn and placing hidden cameras in his home.
16 hours ago
A former administrator of a popular Facebook group used for inviting singles to parties was ordered...
KSL.com

West Jordan man ordered to stand trial in sexual assaults at party for singles

A former administrator of a popular Facebook group used for inviting singles to parties and other events was ordered Friday to stand trial on multiple charges of rape and sexual abuse.
16 hours ago
Salt Lake County Jail (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)...
Pat Reavy

Agents report finding child porn, bag of children’s underwear in Utah man’s home

A man was arrested Thursday after agents reported finding hundreds of videos of child pornography in his home and a bag of children's underwear.
16 hours ago
A mentor at a youth residential treatment center in Millcreek was charged Thursday with sexually ab...
Pat Reavy

Mentor at Millcreek youth treatment facility charged with sexual abuse

A mentor at a youth residential treatment center in Millcreek was charged Thursday with sexually abusing a resident.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Criminal investigation reopened for ex-Cottonwood Heights officer in 2018 shooting