NewsLocal News


Attorney says U of U Police could have done more for Lauren McCluskey, but may not be ‘negligent’

Posted at 9:51 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 08:40:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A newly released police report is revealing details about Lauren McCluskey’s interactions with officers in the days before she was killed by Melvin Shawn Roland.

The eight-page document indicates McCluskey first contacted University of Utah police on October 12.

The officer’s report said, “she has been receiving concerning text messages from some of her ex-boyfriend’s, Shawn Rowland friends.”

McCluskey told the officer she felt, “his friends are trying to lure her into a trap for some reason.”

Police now believe those messages came from Rowland.

The officer responded to McCluskey’s concerns by saying, “without any threats or anything of a criminal nature that there isn’t much we can do.”

But the next day, McCluskey called police again. She reported that someone demanded she pay $1,000 to “protect her image and dignity.”

She also told the officer she felt scared after she noticed Rowland, “picking [peeking] through her dorm window.”

The report was then emailed to a detective. At a press conference last week, police said six days passed between McCluskey’s complaints and police beginning their investigation.

McCluskey was shot and killed on October 22.

An attorney who has represented plaintiffs in numerous lawsuits against law enforcement believes a high standard must be met to prove negligence against police in civil litigation.

“Police have a lot of immunity, not only under state law, but a civil rights doctrine called the public duty doctrine,” attorney Robert Sykes said.

A successful negligence case must show special circumstances existed in the relationship between police and McCluskey. Examples would include police promising protection to McCluskey or notifying her that the situation had been resolved.

“There are exceptions to the public duty doctrine, but it is a tough and robust doctrine that is hard to get around,” Sykes said.

Regardless of the legal ramifications, Sykes believes police could have done more to protect McCluskey’s safety.

“They should take some significant actions to restore their trust and credibility,” Sykes said. “They cannot ignore women with their calls and complaints.”

When asked for a comment, a spokesperson for the University of Utah said its next statement will be made at a press conference Friday morning.

FOX13’s partners at The Salt Lake Tribune obtained the police report.