LOCAL NEWS

SLCo DA: Use of force not justified in collision with teen, no criminal charges

May 27, 2022, 4:03 PM | Updated: 4:46 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 — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that based on new evidence, the use of deadly force by vehicle in a collision between an officer and Zane James in 2018 was not justified. However, Officer Casey Davies will not be criminally charged.

The 19-year-old, killed by a police officer in Cottonwood Heights on May 29, 2018, caused protests and an outcry that police were not forthcoming with evidence in the case.

The investigation into the officer’s deadly use of force was recently reopened by the District Attorney in February. 

A five-page letter explains that there was an original investigation into the fatal shooting of James, but there was never an investigation into the use of force by vehicle: of the collision between Davies’ vehicle and James’ motorcycle.

The letter states, “Following a legal review of the shooting, on Oct. 18, 2018, the DA’s office issued a letter outlining its decision not to charge Officer Davies for a criminal offense related to the shooting.”

However, the letter goes on to explain that in the months and years that followed, they “met with and received information from the James family and their counsel” in a lawsuit they had filed over the shooting, the collision, and other related matters.

The family presented new evidence from their research behind the lawsuit including the GPS tracking of location and speeds of Davies’ patrol vehicle that morning and interviews from witnesses of the collision.

According to this letter, one witness stated she, “saw a wrecked motorcycle,” and  saw James “limping away, crouched over as if injured by the motorcycle crash.”

The letter from Oct. 18, 2018 did not address the collision because “the investigative task force did not present any evidence to our office to allege or support such a scenario.”

While the James family had long supported the scenario of Davies hitting James’ motorcycle with his police car, it wasn’t until March of 2022 that “potentially admissible evidence to support such a claim came to light.”

Apparently a short time after the shooting, Davies commented to CHPD Sgt. Dailey, that he, Officer Davies, hit James motorcycle with his patrol car.

According to the letter, upon learning this information, an investigation into the use of force was reopened.

The witness quoted above and only witness that has said they saw the collision occur, did not return phonecalls and requests for comment back in 2018. Other witnesses saw the motorcycle go down but did not see the collision occur.

Davies refused to comment on the case and his actions in hitting the motorcycle per his right under the fifth amendment.

The investigation concludes that the evidence provided does not show that “James posed a threat of death or serious bodily injury to Officer Davies or others at the time of the alleged contact with his motorcycle.”

However, the letter explains, “the evidence of which we’re aware doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Officer Davies did not intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly hit Mr. James’ motorcycle with his police vehicle.”

For instance, the collision could have been an unintentional or inadvertent collision, and Davies’ statement about hitting the motorcycle would not be inconsistent with an unintentional collision. Without the ability to prove the mental state of Davies at the time of the collision, it’s difficult to file criminal charges.

A statement from the James family’s attorney, Sam Meziani, states:

“The District Attorney’s findings vindicate Zane James. The D.A. correctly concluded Davies was not justified in using deadly force when he crashed into Zane. Although the D.A. determined he did not have evidence to meet the very high criminal standard to prove the car crash was intentional, the D.A. did not have, and could not use, Davies’ Garrity statement. (A Garrity statement is a police officer’s statement of what occurred in an investigated event). In the civil case brought by the family against Cottonwood Heights, the court has already ruled that Davies’ own statements contained in the Garrity statement are admissible.

The public has yet to hear the complete story of Davies’ actions in crashing into Zane James, and then fatally shooting him in the back on May 28, 2018. We look forward to the day we will present all the facts to a jury of citizens.”

A release from the District Attorney concludes, “After determining the facts do not support the affirmative legal defense of justification, we reviewed the evidence and considered whether Officer Davies should be charged criminally for his use of deadly force. We determined we lacked proof of all the elements of a criminal charge. We also determined we lacked sufficient quantity and quality of evidence to support each element of a criminal charge. Therefore, consistent with the legal and ethical obligations to satisfy our burden of proof (which legal and ethical obligation govern our ability to file a criminal case) we declined to file charges against the officer as explained in the attached letter.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Remember the scene in "Footloose" when Ariel climbs out of her friends' moving car and tries to get...

Emma Benson

Everybody cut loose: Utah actress recalls experience filming ‘Footloose’

Remember the scene in "Footloose" when Ariel climbs out of her friends' moving car and tries to get into her boyfriend's truck? The driver – Ariel's friend, Edna – was played by then-19-year-old BYU acting student Kim Abunuwara.

21 minutes ago

Actor Kevin Bacon made an appearance in Payson on Saturday morning as part of festivities leading u...

Lottie Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Darby, Deseret News

‘You were all just tireless’: Kevin Bacon praises Payson High students as he returns to ‘Footloose’ roots

Getting Kevin Bacon to come to Payson, Utah, was no easy feat. Just about anyone who has spent the past year trying to get his attention will tell you that.

27 minutes ago

A rendering of an arts campus plaza within the "Rio Grande District." (Photo: Redevelopment Agency ...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Salt Lake City has ‘ambitious vision’ as it seeks to turn Rio Grande around

The blocks behind the Rio Grande Depot — and the building itself — have gone through some tough times over at least the past decade; however, Salt Lake City planners say they have an "ambitious" plan to turn the site around.

2 hours ago

A photo of seized illegal drugs and paraphernalia from a traffic stop near 1500 South West Temple S...

Carlysle Price

Two arrested after SLCPD find large amounts of methamphetamine

Liberty Patrol officers arrested two people Friday morning after finding nearly 200 grams of methamphetamine in their car, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department press release.

5 hours ago

photo of a snowy peak at Snowbasin...

Nick Perry, Associated Press

Soar, slide, splash? It’s skiers’ choice as spring’s wacky pond skimming tradition returns

It's the wacky spring tradition of pond skimming, and it's happening this month at ski resorts across the country. It's often held to celebrate the last day of the skiing season before the chairlifts close until the following winter.

6 hours ago

Brittney Mulliner showing her website for her book series based on a fiction team called the Utah F...

Andrew Adams

Utah author says she was stunned by one of the trademarked Utah NHL hockey team names

A Utah County author said she was surprised when she saw one of the potential trademarked Utah NHL hockey team names.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

SLCo DA: Use of force not justified in collision with teen, no criminal charges