About 50 people showed up outside the Salt Lake City and County building this afternoon in protest of District attorney Sim Gill, but the demonstrators weren’t without opposition.
The rally was meant to protest Sim Gill's recent ruling that two West Valley City police officers were not justified in shooting Danielle Willard, but it quickly devolved into a shouting match. Beyond the yelling and screaming it was easy to tell the two opposing groups apart. People supporting the actions of the police officers were wearing blue and people supporting Gill and Willard wore red. To get the word out for the rally, Salt Lake County GOP chairman Chad Bennion sent an email blast out to party members. But Bennion, who was there in blue, says the email should not be taken as an endorsement by the organization.
“We just passed on the information," Bennion says. "There’s a lot of issues going on right now issues with the district attorney’s office where he’s overly prosecuting the good guys and under prosecuting the bad guys and we’re just here to show support.”
Bennion also happens to be employed at a law firm that works for the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. He represents police officers in administrative proceedings, but he says that affiliation doesn't create a conflict of interest even as he uses his position in the Salt Lake County GOP to criticize Gill.
“Because it’s a publicly elected office, with regards to the district attorney, there are politics involved," Bennion says. "And those are legitimate issues to be raised and in my capacity as the chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican party, I’m doing that.”
Scott Simons was at the rally to support Gill. He says that even though he’s also a Republican, he doesn’t see Gill as a cop hater.
“The total preponderance of the evidence shows that those cops lied," Simons says. "That’s what I’m saying, these guys are being ridiculous and unreasonable and I think what they’re doing is wrong.”
Gill stands behind his decision to rule the shooting unjustified. He has not determined if the district attorney’s office will be pressing criminal charges against either officer involved.