A Utah police officer has been fired for allegedly mishandling explicit photos of a college student who was later murdered.
Miguel Deras was accused in May of misconduct while working as a member of the University of Utah police, according to a report from The Salt Lake Tribune. Lauren McCluskey, a student athlete, reported to campus police in 2018 that she was being extorted and handed over the sensitive photos as evidence; Deras was accused of saving the photos to his personal phone and then showing them off to colleagues.
McCluskey, 21, was later murdered by her the person who was blackmailing her, her ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland. He shot her multiple times in October 2018 on the college campus before taking his own life.
As a result of his alleged actions regarding the McCluskey case, Deras was fired from his job with the Logan Police Department on Friday, the department said in a press release. He'd begun working there in September shortly after resigning from his position with the University Police Department, according to another report from The Salt Lake Tribune. However, police said Friday that Deras was a probationary employee, and his firing comes on the heels of an investigation by the Department of Public Safety that found him guilty of “mishandling sensitive evidence” while working on the McCluskey case.
“The conclusions drawn in the DPS report are inconsistent with the high expectations and standards placed upon our officers by the community and our department,” the release reads. “Our continuing efforts to hold sacred the public’s trust and our duty to serve and protect has resulted in today’s decision.”
One employee who worked with Deras claimed that he bragged about getting to look at the explicit photos whenever he wanted, according to the Tribune report. He was also accused of showing a sergeant the photos while at the scene of McCluskey’s murder after the sergeant remarked, “I wonder what she looked like.”
Although Deras declined to comment to the paper regarding the report, his attorneys claimed that he was innocent and stated that he behaved “appropriately at every turn.”
The university conducted an internal investigation into the claims last year and concluded that Deras had shown the photos inappropriately, according to the Tribune. They then announced an independent investigation, headed by the Utah Department of Public Safety, earlier this year, in May.
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