Blood-alcohol test taken several hours after bar shooting

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SALT LAKE CITY -- An off-duty sheriff's deputy who fired his gun into a crowded night club on Sept. 19 admitted he had been drinking that night. On Monday, KSL obtained his toxicology report, which indicated a blood-alcohol level of .01 -- well below the legal limit. But there was some vital information missing from the report: the date and time the test was taken.

Tuesday the Salt Lake City Police Department responded to our request for that information. The test was taken at 6:01 a.m. on Sept. 19. The shooting happened sometime between midnight and 1:30 a.m. at Green Street Social Club.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller told KSL last week Deputy Rudy Chacon's blood-alcohol level was "very low," but she would not say the exact level. She said he had admitted to drinking that night.

Chacon fired his gun during a fight that broke out, striking J.J. Pikula.

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The fight was reportedly over a woman in Chacon's party and some unwanted advances by J.J.'s brother, 21-year-old Arnold Pikula.

The Utah Highway Patrol is not involved in any aspect of the Green Street shooting investigation, but we wondered how does it generally determine blood-alcohol levels during investigations, and does time play a role in a test's validity?

Blood-alcohol test taken several hours after bar shooting

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Steven Winward said, "It's imperative to get it as close to the time that it happened, and then it will give you a closer estimation of what they were at the time that the accident or whatever they're investigating occurred."

Lt. Winward said there was approximately a burn-off level of alcohol of about .015 per hour. It would take around five and a half hours for someone at the legal limit of .08 to burn that alcohol off. Deputy Chacon's test was performed close to five hours after the incident.

We again want to specify The Utah Highway Patrol is not involved in any aspect of the Green Street shooting investigation.

Blood-alcohol test taken several hours after bar shooting

We also talked to the Bureau of Toxicology to get some perspective. Technicians said it's possible Chacon's blood alcohol level may have been higher at the time of the shooting.

If Chacon's blood alcohol content was .01 at 6 a.m., he burned off .015 per hour for nearly five hours. That'd be .075 added to the .01 test. It equals .085 -- barely over the limit.

But all that is speculative because every case is different.

Gambrelli Layco, director of the Bureau of Toxicology, explained possible factors that may have contributed.

"How long it's been since the last drink. Whether there was food consumed with the alcohol," he said.

Layco said you also have to take into consideration gender, height, weight and tolerance to alcohol. The lab director said technicians can't give informed answers without that necessary data.

"When we start to get more information, then we can provide an opinion. Before then it's a result that stands on its own without interpretation," he said.

We talked to Chacon Tuesday evening. He didn't want to speak with us until he talks to both of his attorneys.

The district attorney's office said last week it will not file any charges against Deputy Chacon.

We have also requested surveillance video from inside the club during the incident, but our requests have been denied. We were told it was part of the investigation against Arnold Pikula for assault against an officer.

Tuesday Arnold Pikula entered a guilty plea for assaulting a police officer during the incident. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a charge of sexual battery.


Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and Jennifer Stagg.

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