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Former West Valley City police Officer Ryan M. Humphrey was charged Thursday with stealing morphine pills from a deceased cancer patient.

Humphrey, 34, 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.

Humphrey, accused of stealing 22 morphine pills last month, 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 June 5 about 7 p.m. 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," Russo said.

The next day, Humphrey resigned from the department.

An attorney representing Humphrey did not immediately return a message left 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.

"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."

Reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this story.

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