West Valley officer allegedly stole morphine from deceased cancer patient
Crime • Officer allegedly stole pills from dead patient; charges are possible.
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Prosecutors are weighing possible charges against a former West Valley City police officer for allegedly stealing morphine pills from a deceased cancer patient.

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

The backup officer called a supervisor, who arrived and confronted the officer, whose name has not been released because he's not been charged with a crime.

"He admitted doing it and was remorseful," Russo said.

The next day, the officer resigned from the department in lieu of being terminated, according to West Valley City Deputy Chief Mike Powell.

An attorney representing the officer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Russo said his office was asked to investigate the incident because of the conflict of interest. He said felony charges of possession of the morphine and theft were presented to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Salt Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Blake Nakamura confirmed Wednesday that his office is screening possible charges in the matter, but he said a decision won't come until next week. He said he couldn't discuss the exact charges that were being screened.

"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."

jstecklein@sltrib.com

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