Unjustified use of force in collision with teenager, no criminal charges

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that, based on new evidence, the use of deadly force by a vehicle in a collision between an officer and Zane James in 2018 n was not justified. However, Constable Casey Davies will not face criminal charges.

The 19-year-old, killed by a police officer in Cottonwood Heights on May 29, 2018, sparked protests and outcry that police failed to provide evidence in the case.

The investigation into the officer’s fatal 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 a use of force investigation by vehicle: of the collision between the vehicle of Davies and James’ motorcycle.

The letter states: “Following a legal review of the shooting, on October 18, 2018, the prosecutor’s office released a letter setting out its decision not to charge Constable Davies with 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 lawyer” in connection with a lawsuit they filed for the shooting. , collision and other related matters.

The family presented new evidence from their research leading to the lawsuit, including GPS tracking of the location and speed of Davies’ patrol vehicle that morning and interviews with witnesses to the crash.

According to that letter, a witness said she “saw a wrecked motorcycle” and saw James “limping, crouching down as if injured from the motorcycle accident.”

The October 18, 2018 letter did not address the collision because “the investigative task force has presented no evidence to our office to allege or support such a scenario.”

While the James family had long supported the scenario that Davies hit James’ motorbike with his police cruiser, it was not until March 2022 that “potentially admissible evidence to support such a claim came to light”.

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

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

The witness cited above, and the only witness who said he saw the collision happen, did not return phone calls or requests for comment in 2018. Other witnesses saw the motorcycle fall but did not seen the collision occur.

Davies declined to comment on the case and his actions in hitting the motorcycle by his Fifth Amendment right.

The inquest concludes that the evidence provided does not show that “James threatened Constable Davies or others with death or serious bodily harm at the time of the alleged contact with his motorcycle”.

However, the letter explains, “the evidence known to us does not eliminate the possibility that Constable Davies did not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly hit Mr James’ motorcycle with his police vehicle”.

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

A statement from James family attorney Sam Meziani states:

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

The public has yet to hear the full 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 when we present all the facts to a citizens’ jury. .”

A statement from the district attorney concludes: “After determining that the facts do not support the affirmative legal defense of justification, we have reviewed the evidence and considered whether Constable Davies should be criminally charged for his use of force. deadly. We determined that we lacked proof of all elements of a criminal charge. We also determined that we lacked a sufficient quantity and quality of evidence to support each element of a criminal charge. Therefore, in accordance with legal and ethical obligations to meet our burden of proof (whose legal and ethical obligation governs our ability to file a criminal case), we declined to press charges against the officer, as explained in attached letter.