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Former officer charged with stealing drugs from dead man gets hearing

Published August 23, 2013 8:46 pm

Courts • Officer "admitted doing it and was remorseful," police official says.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An Oct. 3 preliminary hearing has been set for a former West Valley City police charged with stealing morphine pills from a deceased cancer patient.

Officer Ryan M. Humphrey was charged in 3rd District Court with possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, as well as theft, a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, Humphrey would face up to five years in prison for the drug charge and up to six months in jail for the misdemeanor.

A judge will hear evidence at the preliminary hearing, then determine if Humphrey should be ordered to stand trial.

He appeared briefly Friday before Judge Vernice Trease in a Salt Lake City courtroom, wearing a dark suit and a red tie. Humphrey didn't speak as the judge set a new hearing date.

Humphrey, 34, who is accused of stealing 22 morphine pills, has no prior sustained disciplinary history with the West Valley City Police Department, according to Deputy Chief Mike Powell in response to a Salt Lake Tribune public records request.

Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said Humphrey responded about 7 p.m. on June 5 to the death of a terminally cancer patient in West Valley City when a colleague, backing him up, allegedly saw Humphrey place 22 morphine pills that belonged to the patient in his pocket.

The backup officer called a supervisor, who arrived and confronted Humphrey.

"He admitted doing it and was remorseful," said Russo, whose department was asked to investigate.

The day after the incident, Humphrey resigned from his job.

"We're disappointed in the actions of one officer, and we are proud of the officers and supervisors that took immediate action under the circumstances," Powell said. "[They] should be commended in their ability to maintain their integrity in following through what they know was the right thing."

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Marissa_Jae