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

Top Stories

Local News

These ballots that have been processed must be kept for two years. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera and Cindy St. Clair

KSL Investigation finds few cases of election crimes prosecuted in Utah 

Nearly one in five Utahns polled believe midterm elections won’t be fair and accurate. As election officials seek to restore voter confidence, KSL Investigator Daniella Rivera went looking for the facts of election crimes in Utah.  
1 day ago
FILE - A rock formation in Arches National Park in the Devil's Garden area (Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV...
Larry D. Curtis

Person recovered at Arches National Park identified as Virginia woman

A dead woman recovered from Arches National Park on Sunday, Oct. 1 has been identified as Yaroslavna Ksenjek, from Arlington, Virgina.
1 day ago
...
Eliza Pace

‘Non-credible’ threat deters plane at SLC airport

A plane was landed away from the terminal and searched by dogs after a threat had been discovered on board. 
1 day ago
...
Eliza Pace

Five-year-old in critical condition after being hit by truck

A five-year-old is in critical condition after they were hit by a truck while riding their bike.
1 day ago
...
Shelby Lofton

Cottonwood Heights group says chipseal is dangerous, ineffective

Some cyclists and drivers said a form of road surface treatment makes their roads bumpy and dangerous.
1 day ago
A homeless-family crisis is emerging in Utah before the winter of 2022. (Lauren Steinbrecher/KSL TV...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Homeless families in Utah reaching ‘crisis,’ as advocates push for solutions

A crisis is emerging over an increase in homeless families in Utah. A local organization and a lawmaker are hope leaders can come together to find solutions before winter sets in.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
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: Ask these questions 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.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
SLCo DA: Use of force not justified in collision with teen, no criminal charges