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West Valley police officer accused of stealing painkillers from a dead person

Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., ABC 4 UTAH,
BYLINE: Brian Carlson

West Valley City, UT

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Another West Valley police officer is being accused of some serious wrong-doing. In recent months West Valley officers have faced allegations of corruption. Now an officer is facing charges for stealing morphine from a dead cancer patient.

For some people who know this officer, these charges comes as a shock. They're not excusing what he did, but they said he just kind of snapped. Investigators said he violated the public trust.

A West Valley City police officer is being accused of stealing painkiller pills from the home of a dead person.

"His fellow officers saw him do that and notified his supervisor who responded to the scene, where they confronted the subject officer," said Chief Robby Russo, Cottonwood Heights Police Dept.

Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said his investigators were asked to look into what happened. He tells Reporter Brian Carlson back in June, the unnamed officer responded to a West Valley home where someone had just died of cancer. The officer found 22 pills of morphine and took them.

"The facts were pretty simple that the officer had violated the public trust and put the pills in his pocket," said Russo.

The officer resigned the next day. He's now facing a felony charge for illegal possession of morphine, as well as misdemeanor charge for theft.

"He made a poor decision, a split second decision that he regrets tremendously," said Lindsay Jarvis, Attorney.

Lindsay Jarvis is the officer's attorney. She said the 33 year old officer had been with the force for 10 years, most recently working child sex cases. She claims what he did was totally out of character. She said stress of the job, plus personal problems at home had just recently forced him to take some time off.

"When he came back I'm not sure he should've been on duty quite frankly," said Jarvis.

Right now West Valley City is refusing to do an interview, but police sent ABC 4 Utah a statement which reads in part:

"While the West Valley City Police Department is disappointed in the actions of the officer, we reiterate our commitment to the community. We are extremely proud of the officers and supervisors who took immediate and appropriate action in this very difficult situation."

Although Cottonwood Heights Police are recommending that the West Valley officer be charged with a felony, it actually hasn't happened yet. Right now the Salt Lake County District Attorney is working out of state. It's expected charges could be filed as early as Monday when the DA returns.

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