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Gresham grad shot, killed by police in Utah

A 21-year-old woman who grew up in Gresham has been shot and killed by police in Utah.

Danielle “DeeDee” Misha Willard died Friday, Nov. 2, at an apartment complex in West Valley City. south of Salt Lake City, said Sgt. Mike Powell, spokesman for the West Valley Police Department.

Detectives with the department were conducting an investigation at the complex when she was shot about 1:30 p.m., Powell said. He said he could not discuss the nature of the investigation or if it involved Willard.

One detective was transported to a local hospital and treated for undisclosed injuries. He was released the same day. Both detectives involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, as is routine in an officer-involved shooting, Powell said.

“It is still an active investigation so no other details are being released,” Powell said.

Willard moved to a sober-living facility in Utah this spring, said her mother, Melissa Kennedy, who now lives in Vancouver.

A gifted athlete, Willard excelled in soccer and distance running at Gresham High School.

She became addicted to heroin after graduating in 2009, her mother said. After on-and-off drug treatment, “She was doing great,” Kennedy said. So good in fact, she felt she was ready to move out of the sober-living facility, which bans alcohol and drugs because residents are in recovery.

She was on her way to deliver a down payment on a new apartment on the day she was shot, her mother said.

The new apartment was not at the complex where she was shot, she added.

Willard was in a white Subaru when she was shot, according to an online article by an ABC news affiliate. She also crashed the car into another vehicle at the complex, but it’s not clear whether that was before the shooting or a result of the shooting.

It’s also not clear whether the detective’s injuries are related to the collision, but Kennedy has heard that the officer was hit by a car.

Her mother said Willard was not armed and did not have a gun in the car. She doesn’t understand why police had to shoot Willard instead of using a Taser or other less-than-lethal measures.

“She was 100 pounds and was shot just above the left eye,” she said, adding that a second bullet grazed her chin. “What they did was so totally wrong. I don’t see how they can make this all justified. It makes no sense.”

West Valley City has about 130,000 residents. Willard’s facebook page listed Murray, Utah, as where she lived. Murray is a city of about 50,000 located south of West Valley City.

“She went to rehab, finally got her act together and then this happens,” her mother said. “There’s a lot more questions than there are answers right now.”




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