Officer-involved shooting in Holladay ruled justified

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. File Photo: Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 11, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — An officer-involved shooting in Holladay on Sept. 17 has been ruled justified, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced in a press conference Friday.

A Unified Police Department officer shot a man who allegedly had just fired at him, using a weapon the man had just taken from another officer.

The incident occurred in the area of 4500 S. 2300 East at approximately 3 p.m.

Gill said there were many “multiple, multiple witnesses to the incident,” as well as partial body-worn camera footage from the involved officer, John Saulnier, though it was only initiated towards the end of the incident. Two citizens also took video and there was video from a nearby Chevron as well.

The person who was shot, Eric Wyatt Pectol, was traveling eastbound on a motorcycle on 4500 South, Gill said. He reached the intersection at 2300 East and stopped for a red light, then “crept forward and ran the red light, revving his engine,” Gill said.

A gray Ford F-150 truck, which had begun to proceed into the intersection northbound, struck the rear of Pectol’s motorcycle.

“Mr. Pectol went flying and his motorcycle came to rest just east of the intersection at the front front of a westbound lane in front of a school bus that had stopped before reaching the intersection,” Gill said.

Officer Jason Hudgens witnessed the crash while at a gas station nearby and ran over to see if there were any injuries. Pectol jumped up and began running and Hudgens yelled: “Hey, where are you going?” Pectol ran the length of the school bus on its north side and Hudgens pursued him on the south side of the bus. He then told Pectol to stop.

“Mr. Pectol reached down his shorts and told Officer Hudgens that he had a gun,” Gill said. “Officer Hudgens pointed his handgun at Mr. Pectol and gave him commands. Mr. Pectol then took his hand out of his shorts and fled again, northwest into a field.” It later turned out Pectol did not have a gun, Gill said.

In the field, Pectol allegedly turned and ran toward Hudgens, who began moving backwards and deployed his Taser, which had no effect. The officer then fell to the ground, and his handgun also landed on the ground. Pectol immediately ran to the handgun and picked it up, Gill said.

Saulnier arrived at the intersection at that time and said in a subsequent interview that he saw an accident had occurred so he turned on his lights and moved behind the F-150 truck. Saulnier then saw Hudgens and Pectol.

“Officer Saulnier said he saw Mr. Pectol pick up a gun and point it towards Officer Hudgens,” Gill said. Saulnier yelled: “Drop the gun,” Gill said, and at this point, Pectol allegedly turned toward Saulnier and pointed the gun at him, and fired once in a southwest direction.

Saulnier said “he looked down the barrel of a gun, saw the muzzle flash and heard a snap like there was a bullet coming by him,” Gill said. He then returned fire and Pectol fell to the ground, with Hudgens’ handgun near him.

Hudgens approached Pectol and kicked the handgun away from him, and Saulnier approached Pectol with his handgun pointed at him and this is the time his body-worn camera began, as he realized it was not on. Hudgens then retrieved and reholstered his firearm. Hudgens had not yet picked up his body-worn camera that day, Gill said.

Emergency aid was rendered and Pectol was transported to an area hospital by ground ambulance, where he was initially in critical condition, then was upgraded to stable.

Investigators subsequently learned Pectol was a parole fugitive from AP&P and was wanted in relation to a serious traffic accident that had occurred on Sept. 11, 2020, in which a passenger sustained life-threatening injuries.

In a subsequent interview, Pectol said he did not fire a shot. In an interview with investigators, he said, “I never wanted to hurt him, I wanted to kill me,” saying he wanted to die because of the accident on Sept. 11.

A family member reported to investigators that Pectol had said he was going to take his own life before leaving on his motorcycle on Sept. 17.

“Mr. Pectol unlawfully presented an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury when he disarmed Officer Hudgens and picked up his firearm, when he pointed Officers Hudgens’ firearm at Officers Hudgens, and when he pointed and shot the firearm at Officer Saulnier,” Gill said.

The incident was investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department, per protocol.


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