An off-duty Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputy shot a bar patron at the Green Street Social Club in Trolley Square at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning. A fight erupted between 10 to 15 people and after the dust settled, 26-year-old John Junior Pikula was down with a bullet in his chest.
Pikula’s brother Nolo has no clue why his brother was shot. He said that his group did not have a gun and he did not hear the deputy identify himself before he pulled the trigger. The deputy was at the bar for a family gathering and some of the people in that group were involved in the fight.
The incident is under investigation but so far, Salt Lake City police are not commenting on what happened or the investigation. Specifically, investigators have not indicated whether the deputy had been drinking prior to the shooting, why the deputy shot Pikula, or whether any identification was made before he shot Pikula.
The deputy is on paid leave as department policy dictates while Pikula remains in critical condition at University Hospital with what are thought to be non-life threatening injuries. Pikula was scheduled to be married this coming weekend but that will be re-scheduled. Meanwhile, Pikula family members and their representatives should be taking a long, hard look at whether this shooting was an appropriate use of force in a public venue. Did the situation really warrant pulling a gun and using it in a crowded bar? Perhaps the investigation will support the shooting but it seems that the bar, so to speak, should be pretty high for such aggressive action on the part of the deputy.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.