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Mother: Daughter unarmed when Utah police shot her

Published November 6, 2012 6:14 pm

Investigation • Fatal wound was in the woman's head.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Four days after her daughter was fatally shot by West Valley City police in an incident that left one officer injured, Melissa Kennedy said she still has more questions than answers.

Kennedy traveled from Vancouver, Wash., to meet with detectives who are investigating the Friday shooting that killed her daughter, Danielle Willard. Kennedy said police have told her so far that her 21-year-old daughter was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and that the fatal bullet entered through the top of her head. Kennedy, who saw her daughter's body, said it also looked as if another bullet had grazed her chin.

Those two facts are all Kennedy has learned so far during her trip to Utah. Wednesday, she plans to return home to plan for her daughter's funeral, which is Saturday in Vancouver. She said that the detectives investigating the shooting have been helpful, but she understands she won't get all the answers she wants right now.

"I have to say that I'm glad that they're taking their time and being this meticulous because we want to know what happened," Kennedy said.

But she still doesn't know what prompted the shooting in the first place or what exactly her daughter was doing at the Lexington complex in West Valley. Willard moved to Murray from Vancouver in April to check into a drug rehabilitation clinic. She struggled with a heroin addiction, Kennedy said.

"I've got more questions right now than I do answers," she said.

Willard's body was on the passenger side of a silver car she was known to drive, but Kennedy said she doesn't know if Willard was with anyone else at the time of the shooting. Another officer, a plainclothes detective, also was injured, but police said Friday he was not injured by a gunshot.

Two plainclothes detectives were at the Lexington Park Apartments conducting an unspecified investigation when Willard was shot and killed. Her car crashed into another car that was unoccupied in the parking lot.

A memorial protected by traffic cones still sat Tuesday at the site where Willard was shot. People left flowers, candles and notes addressed to the 21-year-old woman.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Mike Powell of the West Valley City Police Department said police are still investigating the incident.


Twitter: @KimballBennion




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