SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, May 27, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has released new information regarding an officer-involved shooting that occurred four years ago in Cottonwood Heights.
The incident, on May 29, 2018, involved the shooting, and eventual death, of 19-year-old Zane James by Officer Davies of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. The shooting was deemed justified following the initial investigation conducted by the Salt Lake City Police Department working as an outside agency.
Zane James was a suspect in two reported armed robberies overnight, at a nearby Smith’s and a local Macy’s store, a Cottonwood Heights Police spokesman told Gephardt Daily after the incident. James also had been arrested for similar robberies in 2017.
The earlier findings, released by DA Sim Gill‘s Office on Oct. 8, 2018, indicated that the shooting was justified; however, according to the Friday press release, “new evidence was presented to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office in March 2022.”
Over the course of several months, the Cottonwood Heights Police Department received new evidence provided by the James family and their legal counsel. Family members and an investigator hired by their attorney spoke with witnesses and examined GPS data from Officer Davies’ patrol vehicle, all of which indicated that Officer Davies struck James’ motorcycle with his car prior to the shooting.
There was no mention of Davies’ patrol car striking James’ motorcycle in the first reports of the incident in 2018.
According to the new information, witnesses subsequently told the family and their investigator that they didn’t see the actual collision, but that James appeared to be limping away, crouched over, from the motorcycle as though he had been injured when it crashed.
In the first quarter of 2022, the investigative task force conducting the second review gave the DA’s office evidence “tending to support an allegation that Officer Davis had collided with Mr. James’s (sic) during a police pursuit.” It also reported that Davies apparently made a statement to another officer that he had hit James’ motorcycle.
“After conducting a new Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) review, based on the further evidence brought forward, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the May 29, 2018, use of deadly force by a Cottonwood Heights Police Officer who hit Mr. James with his car was not justified,” the Friday press release says.
“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,” the news release states.
Davies won’t be criminally charged, however, because, “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.”
The statement concludes:
“The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, operating pursuant to an agreement with participating law enforcement agencies and consistent with established protocols and applicable laws, conducts independent reviews of officer involved critical incidents, including police officers’ use of deadly force used in the scope of police officers’ official duties.”