SALT LAKE CITY – Utah police won't seek charges against a sandwich-shop worker accused of drugging a police officer's drink, but the man and his attorney are upset that authorities aren't apologizing for sullying his reputation.
The case was closed after state lab results couldn't confirm that the officer's drink had methamphetamine and THC, findings from initial field tests that led police to arrest Tanis Ukena on Aug. 8, Layton Police Lt. Travis Lyman said Tuesday. Blood and urine tests also revealed the officer didn't have any drugs in his system, Lyman said. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component in marijuana.
The officer, whose name was not released, reported feeling impaired immediately after getting the drink that day in the northern Utah city. He struggled to find the brake pedal of his patrol car at a red light and couldn't answer questions at the police station.
Ukena, 18, was arrested on suspicion of surreptitiously giving a poisonous substance, a felony.
Lyman said it's a mystery why the officer felt impaired that day. They don't suspect he took drugs, is a drug addict or tried to frame Ukena, Lyman said. He is still employed with the department.
Ukena's attorney Randy Richards said the bungled investigation caused Ukena to suffer humiliation as his mug shot and name appeared in news articles around the country. The serious allegations put his plan to serve a Mormon mission temporarily on hold
He's been cleared to leave later this year on the proselyting mission after the Davis County attorney sent a letter explaining chargers weren't coming, Richards said, but the damage from the arrest won't go away anytime soon.
"That stuff can't ever be erased. If you Google Tanis Ukena for the next 10 years, this is what is going to come up," Richards said. "I don't understand why they don't say, 'We made a mistake, we shouldn't have arrested him. We're sorry about it.'"
When asked why police won't apologize, Lyman said, "We just don't know for sure what happened and can't rule anything out."
The Layton Police Department said in a news release they wanted to express "appreciation for the patience of Tanis and his family during this investigation."
Ukena, who graduated from high school last spring, is scheduled to talk Monday afternoon at a news conference. He's no longer working at Subway but has a new job, Richards said.
His family is considering filing a lawsuit, Richards said.
Subway officials didn't immediately have comment.
Ukena's arrest came during a summer of growing animosity and distrust of police around the country in the wake of a number of officer-involved shootings. That led Layton police to acknowledge after the arrest that they were looking into that as a motive.