Pubdate: Sun, 18 Aug 2013
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Jennifer Dobner


Onetime Defendant in Dismissed Drug Case Is First to Sue.

A onetime defendant in a drug case tossed out amid allegations of 
misconduct in the West Valley City Police Department has sued the 
department in federal court, claiming the agency's narcotics officers 
violated his constitutional rights when they detained his family and 
searched their home without a warrant last year.

Attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dante Donell Ketchens, his 
girlfriend, Danielle Swasey, and Ketchens' two children on Wednesday 
in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are West Valley City narcotics 
officers Shaun Cowley, Kevin Salmon, Sean McCarthy and John Coyle, 
along with now-retired Chief Thayle "Buzz" Nielsen.

The lawsuit is the first brought by a defendant in the more than 125 
cases tossed out by state and federal prosecutors after West Valley 
City came under fire for alleged corruption and misconduct, including 
the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard last November.

The shooting, which the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office 
ruled an unjustified use of force, triggered multiple probes into the 
department's operations and policies. Those investigations, including 
one by the FBI, remain ongoing. Nine officers have been placed on 
administrative leave, and West Valley City's narcotics squad has been 

Willard's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June against the 
city and several officers.

On Saturday, West Valley City spokesman Aaron Crim said he was aware 
of Ketchens' lawsuit but that the city had not yet been served. The 
city doesn't comment on pending litigation, but Crim said he believed 
the allegations of the lawsuit did stem from a narcotics squad 
investigation and that it was indeed the first one to be brought by a 
defendant from any of the dismissed cases.

Lindsay Jarvis, the attorney who represents Cowley, said she was 
familiar with the allegations but couldn't comment on the lawsuit 
because her client had not yet been served. Cowley was one of two 
officers who conducted a traffic stop involving Ketchens "but had no 
involvement in the allegations set forth in the complaint," Jarvis said.

Messages left at the offices of attorneys representing Salmon, 
McCarthy and Coyle were not immediately returned Saturday.

Court papers filed in the Ketchens/Swasey lawsuit say West Valley 
City officers followed Ketchens to his home on Aug. 15, 2012, and 
then ransacked the house without a warrant looking for drugs. 
Ketchens and Swasey were handcuffed and held for more than eight 
hours, leaving Swasey unable to adequately comfort or care for her 
infant daughter, who needed a diaper change. Swasey was made to feed 
her daughter while wearing handcuffs, the court papers say.
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