Logan police fire Officer Miguel Deras for showing off explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Police cars sit in the parking lot of the University of Utah police department.

The Logan Police Department has fired Officer Miguel Deras after state investigators concluded this week that he showed off explicit photos of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey to his co-workers, including to a sergeant at the scene of her murder.

Deras, who was working at the University of Utah at the time of the displays, left the campus police force about a year after McCluskey’s slaying in October 2018 and has been at the Logan department since then. The chief there, Gary Jensen, said Friday that the abuse of evidence is “inconsistent with the high expectations and standards placed upon our officers by the community.”

Deras’ employment, Jensen noted in a statement, is now “ended effective immediately.”

“Our continuing efforts to hold sacred the public’s trust and our duty to serve and protect has resulted in today’s decision,” he added. Jensen said he would not be commenting any further.

Neither Deras nor his attorneys responded immediately when asked for comment on the termination Friday.

On Wednesday, when the University of Utah released the findings from an investigation by the Utah Department of Public Safety, Deras’ attorneys released a letter in which they maintained his innocence and said he “acted appropriately at every turn.”

DPS, though, determined Deras had inappropriately shown off the pictures to at least three of his male colleagues without a work-related reason. One staffer had recounted that Deras commented specifically about getting to “look at them whenever he wants.”

The state’s investigation was spurred by a May report in The Salt Lake Tribune about Deras’ misconduct, which occurred during the time he was assigned to investigate McCluskey’s concerns of extortion over the photos by Melvin Rowland, a man she had briefly dated. She had given Deras the photos as evidence in her case.

At the time the article was published, the U. had confirmed that Deras had displayed the photos at the department days before McCluskey was shot to death outside her dorm by Rowland, who later died by suicide. But the school decided its own internal review had not been thorough enough and called in DPS to investigate further.

DPS also found Deras displayed the images three more times, to supervisors. During two of those, Deras later said, he was trying to ask how to upload the pictures to the department’s evidence database, despite having worked for the department for three years. On the other, he showed a sergeant one of the nude photos of McCluskey while they were at the crime scene on the night she was fatally shot, after the superior said, “I wonder what she looked like.”

His legal counsel said that display was “for the sole purpose of providing context for identifying Lauren.” However, the report found, Deras also had a driver license photo of McCluskey on his phone.

The review team was unable to determine whether Deras had saved or downloaded the intimate photos to his personal device. The report notes, though, Deras switched phones after McCluskey was killed, so much of the data later recovered on his device was encrypted or corrupted.

The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) division, which is responsible for discipline within law enforcement, also is investigating Deras’ conduct. It could suspend or revoke his police certification over the findings.

Additionally, Deras is also being sued as part of a $56 million federal lawsuit that McCluskey’s parents have filed against the university.

Her parents have previously criticized Deras for showing the images of their daughter. And on Friday, McCluskey’s father, Matt, added in an email: “My only comment is that the firing speaks for itself.”

U. students had rallied on Thursday for Deras to be fired. And a petition calling for his termination had more than 135,000 signatures.

When Logan police hired Deras in September 2019, Chief Jensen had defended the choice — even after Deras’ other missteps in McCluskey’s case, noted in an independent review, and after he was written up following that for his inappropriate response to another domestic violence call.

The University of Utah has also taken action against three of its employees after the DPS investigation. It has not released the details of that.