A University of Utah police officer is under fire after
reportedly showing colleagues explicit sexual photos of a 21-year-old student
who later ended up dead.
Newly released reports allege that Officer Miguel Deras
inappropriately showed his fellow officers explicit images and that Deras'
fellow officers "inappropriately commented on the photos."
What are the details of the girl's death?
Lauren McCluskey was killed in Oct. 2018 when her
ex-boyfriend shot her inside a parked vehicle at the university.
Just three days before her murder, McCluskey filed a police
report alleging that her ex-boyfriend — 37-year-old registered sex offender
Melvin Rowland — was blackmailing her with explicit photos. McCluskey also
insisted that Rowland was sending her threatening texts and email messages,
warning that he would damage her "financially and reputationally."
KUTV-TV reported that Rowland lied about his age to
McCluskey, who had allegedly paid him a sum of $1,000 to stop him from
spreading the photos online. McCluskey was also allegedly unaware of Rowland's
sex offender status.
Rowland reportedly showed up at the school and shot
McCluskey multiple times while she was on the phone with her mother.
The suspect was found dead from an apparent suicide just
hours after police discovered McCluskey's body.
How did the officer come into play?
Deras, who was assigned the case prior to McCluskey's
murder, flaunted the evidence in front of at least three of his colleagues,
reports say, boasting that he could "look at them whenever he
At the time, one of Deras' fellow officers reportedly
commented, "She's cute," while another allegedly said that Deras' was
"lucky" to have been assigned the case.
Following her death, Deras' reportedly continued to show off
the graphic photos of McCluskey's body, allegedly showing at least one officer
at the crime scene what she looked like through the photos, which Deras'
allegedly accessed through his cell phone.
The girl's parents filed a $65 million lawsuit against the
school and police force, insisting it mishandled the case.
Deras reportedly quit the department in September 2019 and
now works for the Logan City Police Department, reports say.
Rodney Chatman, chief of police for the University of Utah's
Department of Public Safety, issued remarks on the findings on Wednesday.
"I am deeply disturbed by this finding and disappointed
in the officers who were present and who did not report this incident through
appropriate university channels," Chatman said. "It is inexcusable
for any law enforcement officer to discuss photos or information provided by a
victim outside of clear and legitimate law enforcement reasons."
A statement from Deras' legal team roundly denies the
allegations against its client.