Family of Zane James speaks out after settlement reached with Cottonwood Heights
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — The family of Zane James said they are grateful to the community for their love and support, speaking to reporters at Cottonwood Heights City Hall on Tuesday. Family spokesman, Sam Meziana said the settlement the family agreed to, in excess of $4 million, means their loved one Zane James was valued.
“It’s a vindication of his life,” said Meziana. “Zane was 19, came from a loving family and made some poor decisions on the day of the shooting, but those decisions should not result in a death sentence.”
A police patrol car hit James on May 29, 2018, when he was reportedly fleeing the scene of a robbery. He was then shot by Officer Casey Davies. Authorities said James was wanted in connection with multiple robberies. James died from his injuries two days later.
The family subsequently filed a lawsuit over James’ death. On July 1, Cottonwood Heights’ insurance provider — the Utah Local Governments Trust — settled the family’s claims.
On Tuesday night, family members had their say. Zane’s mother, Tiffany James, said her distrust of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department runs deep.
“It doesn’t matter if you have an addiction, it doesn’t matter if you have a mental health challenge, it doesn’t matter if you’ve committed a crime. That penalty shouldn’t be death. We have a criminal justice system to manage those things,” said James.
Zane’s father, Aaron James, who was found guilty of interfering with an arresting officer on a roadway during a protest in August 2020, told reporters and supporters gathered Tuesday night that the family hopes the case will help hasten police reform.
The City of Cottonwood Heights said the settlement to the family does not constitute an admittance of any wrongdoing, and that they support their police department fully. A news release stated the city does not support the settlement decision but hopes it brings closure to the family and other loved ones of James.
Originally, Salt Lake County D.A. Sim Gill had concluded that Officer Davies was justified in the use of deadly force. However, in February, prosecutors reopened the investigation.
In May, Gill reversed those findings, concluding the officer was not legally justified in hitting the 19-year-old with his police cruiser but declined to file any criminal charges against Davies. Davies is no longer with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.
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