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UnsafeU protests Sim Gill ahead of the anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s killing

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hailee Hernandez, a graduate student at Westminster College, and Jacob Westwood, a University of Utah graduate, protest Sim Gill's decision to not prosecute former University of Utah police officer Miguel Deras for his handling of Lauren McCluskey's case Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2020. Gill announced this week that criminal charges would not be filed against the former University of Utah police officer who showed explicit photos of University of Utah student-athlete McCluskey to his co-workers while working her case.

On the eve of the second anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s murder, UnsafeU organized a march in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday evening to protest Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and police misconduct. Gill announced this week that criminal charges would not be filed against a former University of Utah police officer who showed explicit photos of McCluskey, a University of Utah student, to his co-workers.

About 40 protesters wearing purple chanted “Justice for Lauren” and “Sim Gill, prosecute and jail these crooked cops” as they marched from Washington Square to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.

Two years ago, McCluskey went to University of Utah police to say she was being extorted by Melvin Rowland, a man she had briefly dated. University of Utah Officer Miguel Deras had been assigned to investigate McCluskey’s case and was given copies of the photographs from McCluskey as evidence.

On Oct. 22, 2018, the 21-year-old college athlete was shot to death outside her dorm by Rowland, who later died by suicide.

In August, an investigation led by the Utah Department of Public Safety found that Deras had inappropriately shown the pictures of McCluskey to at least three of his colleagues without a work-related reason in the days before McCluskey was killed.

Gill said he believes the Deras’ actions were “definitely reckless,” but went on to say there is no Utah law for addressing this type of police misconduct.

“The reason that Miguel Deras was not charged was because there is not a law on the books to charge him with,” Gill said in a statement Wednesday. “The lack of charges in no way condones the behavior or invalidates the injury to the McCluskey family.”

Gill added that his office is working with Utah lawmakers to create a law making such actions illegal. “This is to make sure that in the future if there is an incident like this again, there can be criminal accountability,” Gill said in the statement.

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