Who is Zane James, why were his brother and father detained by police in Cottonwood Heights protest?

Protesters marching in memory of Zane say they were pepper-sprayed while trying to help people who had already been maced. They tweeted that police shot 'people directly in the eyes'

                            Who is Zane James, why were his brother and father detained by police in Cottonwood Heights protest?
Zane James (Cottonwood Heights Police Department)

In a protest rally that took place in memory of Zane James, who was shot dead in a tragic incident of police brutality in 2018, the Cottonwood Height Police in Utah detained his father and brother. The rally that began at Mill Hollow Park on Sunday, August 2, was met with clashes with the police when the protesters marched into a residential neighborhood near 6710 South and 2680 East.

Zane’s bereaved father said that the group aimed to walk past the same spot where his son was killed but after the protest escalated, the police took him into custody. The police reportedly said that protesters will be allowed to demonstrate if they do not block the streets, adding that they needed to clear the crowd from the park if it was found there past the curfew time, which is 10 pm. The protesters cleared out around 7:30 pm. 

Some protesters took to twitter to highlight incidents of police brutality in Cottonwood Heights tweeting, “I was pepper sprayed in the mouth and upper body while trying to help people who had already been maced. A lot of people got it a LOT worse. They shot people directly in the eyes and I think gave someone an asthma attack”.


“UPDATE!! DONATE! please if you can PLEASE!! they arrested the brother and father of ZANE JAMES, a victim who was murdered by Cottonwood Heights PD. They pepper sprayed a congresswoman. do you believe me when i say ACAB now??” tweeted another user. 


The Cottonwood Heights Police told Fox 13 that they took nine people into custody and impounded three vehicles. As per the report, specific charges were not given, but police said there were several fights between protesters and officers, in which a number of officers were hit, leading to police use of pepper spray and tasers.

Zane James killing

The protest was a 'March for Justice' for Zane, who was shot and killed by a CHPD officer in 2018. In that case, the police claimed that Zane had been fleeing on a bike in Cottonwood Heights after allegedly robbing two stores with an ‘airsoft’ or toy gun loaded with BBs. Zane’s parents Aaron and Tiffany James said in 2019 that they were filing a civil rights complaint, in view of a policy change and aiming for better training procedures and transparency within the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.

“The fact of the matter is we trust our law enforcement to do what’s right – to follow training, to follow procedures and protocols. On CHPD’s website, they talked about how Officer Davies is a trainer for all these practices (lethal, non-lethal, SWAT), but we’re not seeing any of that training,” said Tiffany James, reports ABC 4. 

Complaint documents stated that Cottonwood Heights Officer Casey Davies pulled up as Zane was fleeing, opened his car door, and shot Zane in the back, seriously injuring him. Davies fired four shots, two of which struck Zane. “At the time of the shooting by Defendant Casey Davies, he was running away and was non-threatening (it later said he had no weapon in his hand). One bullet apparently severed Zane’s spinal cord at C-6. This injury led to his death three days later. The shooting violated Zane’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, 14 of the Utah Constitution,” as stated in the complaint.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill had previously stated police officer Davies’s refusal to make a statement into the matter saying, “Officer Davies refused to make a statement to investigators about his decision to shoot Zane, although constitutional under the 5th amendment, made the investigation more difficult. The shooting was eventually ruled justified.”

Who was Zane James?

According to the civil rights complaint, Zane was an accomplished high-level competitive hockey player and academic. He suffered from two very serious concussions which resulted in the end of his hockey career. Thereafter, he became severely and clinically depressed and was addicted to opiates as he struggled to cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of his condition. He was actively seeking treatment for his depression at the time of the shooting. 

“This caused him to experience fear and terror in the last three days of his young life,” the complaint stated. In the legal documents, it is mentioned that Zane declined any life-saving methods to be used to preserve his life after realizing that if he survived he would be paralyzed. He died on May 31, two days after the shooting.


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