All it took was 2.5 seconds.
Two-and-a-half seconds for West Valley City, Utah, police detective Shaun Cowley to assess what he perceived as a threat, pull his 9mm Glock pistol from his holster and fire two shots.
Two-and-a-half seconds for one of the bullets to pierce a driver’s side car window and enter the left side of Danielle Willard’s skull.
Two-and-a-half seconds to take Willard’s life.
Two-and-a-half seconds that changed Cowley’s life.
“The shooting cost me everything,” Cowley says. “You make a split-second decision about whether you go home that day and someone else does not. That’s a heavy burden.”
In the national conversation over police use of deadly force, prompted by fatal shootings of unarmed people, the impact on officers who have killed in the line of duty and the people connected to those who have died is haunting. For them, the issue goes beyond protests, social media outrage and hours of news coverage.