LOGAN, Utah, Aug. 5, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A former University of Utah police officer showed explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey sent to him as evidence to other officers on multiple occasions, according to the findings of a newly released report by the Department of Public Safety.
Rodney Chatman, chief of police for the University of Utah released the details of the investigation Wednesday morning.
The statement from Chatman reads in full:
I ordered an independent review of allegations against a former University of Utah police officer accused of inappropriately sharing and discussing photos being used to extort Lauren McCluskey. That review, conducted by the Utah Department of Public Safety, is now complete and is available online for the campus community to review (see below).
I am grateful to Commissioner Jess L. Anderson of the Utah Department of Public Safety and his team for their thorough, comprehensive and independent investigation that included interviews with 20 current police officers and employees, and 17 former employees.
In summary, investigators found no evidence that a former University of Utah officer inappropriately downloaded extortion photos that had been emailed to him by the victim or that he had electronically transferred those photos to anyone other than the detective assigned to the case.
However, the report did find evidence that a small number of officers inappropriately commented on the photos before, during or immediately after a shift change briefing. As I wrote in May, 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. 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.
This type of behavior is not acceptable in my department and will not be tolerated.
While employment actions are confidential, it is important that the university community understands we are pursuing action against individual officers based on the findings in this report. As our new mission statement makes clear: We seek public trust by policing with compassion, integrity and accountability in our daily pursuit of excellence. We nurture public trust by holding ourselves to the highest standards.
These are not just words. They are values that I expect every officer and staff member in my department to live up to every day.
Since coming to Utah earlier this year, I have been impressed with the sincere commitment shown by many in my department to change our culture and regain the trust of the campus community we serve. But, we cannot ignore our past and this report is a stark reminder of why our work moving forward is so important.
We will continue to strive to be better, to hold each other accountable and to serve our community with the utmost integrity. I look forward to continued conversations with students, faculty and staff as we work to build a law enforcement agency reflective of the remarkable organization and people it serves.
Read the executive summary here.
Read the full investigation report and addendums here.
Melvin Rowland shot McCluskey, a former girlfriend, whom he had been stalking, outside her dorm at the U of U as she returned from a night class on Oct. 22, 2018.
Hours later, police discovered Rowland, by then the subject of a manhunt, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot inside a downtown Salt Lake City church.
The officer in question joined Logan Police Department after leaving the U in September 2019. Back in May, the Logan Police Department launched an internal investigation into the incident.
A news release from Logan Police Department in May said: “This morning The Salt Lake Tribune published an article reporting an officer from our department, who at the time of the alleged offense was an employee of University of Utah Police Department, allegedly showed explicit photos of a female victim who was being extorted for money, to at least one U of U police coworker. According to the article he was the assigned investigating officer and he received photos as evidence through email from the victim and was allegedly stored on the officer’s phone.”
The news release said the article was the first time Logan PD heard about this allegation.
“We are very concerned about this allegation and are starting our own internal investigation to determine the facts,” the news release said. “At the end of the investigation we will take whatever action is appropriate based on the facts we discover.
“We will not have further comment until we have information from our investigation to comment on.”
The state has not yet made a decision whether it will suspend or revoke the officer’s police certification based on the findings.
McCluskey’s family has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the U of U, claiming the U of U police force ignored their daughter’s repeated pleas for help in the days prior to the shooting.