University of Utah Officer Kept Explicit Photos of Domestic Violence Victim on Phone, Showed Them to Co-worker
Former University of Utah Officer Miguel Deras is now the subject of an internal affairs investigation by the Logan Police Department for showing off explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey.
Logan, Utah — The Logan Police Department has announced that it is conducting an internal affairs investigation of Officer Miguel Deras who formerly was an officer for the University of Utah Police Services (UUPS) department.
When Deras was employed by the UUPS, he saved to his personal phone explicit photos that a domestic violence victim had sent to him as evidence that she was being extorted. He then showed off at least one of the photos to a male co-worker and bragged about looking at the images whenever he wanted, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
All of this happened only days before the victim – 21-year-old University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey – was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. About a month before her murder, McCluskey had filed a complaint against Melvin Rowland, 37, saying she was afraid of him and alleging harassment. Deras was UUPS’ investigator of the harassment case.
The images have come to light as a result of the Salt Lake Tribune’s efforts to get records on how the case was handled. Two UUPS officers have now confirmed that Deras did show the photos, but neither reported the incident at the time.
Although McCluskey was murdered in October 2018, up until now Deras has not faced discipline for the display of photos, and the University of Utah didn’t know about the incident until after Deras left the department in September 2019.
Deras’ alleged actions are just the latest in a long list of errors by UUPS in its handling of McClusky’s case as well as other crimes against women cases.
Last summer, an independent review of the murder found that campus police were understaffed and not properly trained in handling domestic violence cases, which led to McCluskey’s death. Around the same time that the review was released, UUPS Chief Dale Brophy announced his resignation.
Since then, serious accusations against the department have emerged, including the mistreatment of female victims and officers and the hiring of leaders disciplined at previous agencies. Many say the mishandling by UUPS of crimes against women goes back years.
Maj. Scott Stephenson of the Utah Department of Public Safety believes Deras’ actions might discourage victims from coming forward in the future.
The discovery of Deras’ actions was hampered by the fact that shortly after McCluskey’s murder, he got a new phone. When the university downloaded the contents of the officer’s phone, most of what came back was corrupted, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Most of what was retrieved was dated after McCluskey’s death.
Another issue with the phone data transfer was the way it was conducted, and the fact that it was done by West Valley City rather than the Utah Department of Public Safety, which may have been a conflict of interest. Apparently UUPS and West Valley City had a close relationship.
Deras could be suspended or have his certification withdrawn, depending on what the internal investigation uncovers.