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Deputy at center of controversial shooting cleared to return to work

Deputy at center of controversial shooting cleared to return to work



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Sheriff's detective at the center of a controversial shooting at the Green Street Club has been cleared to return to duty, according to Sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson.

Det. Rudy Chacon, though, isn't likely to return to duty until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hutson said an internal review is still underway. But he said disciplinary action, if any, would not likely involve termination.

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Chacon fired one shot during a fight last September at the Green Street Social Club, striking Junior Pikula in the arm and upper body. Chacon claimed he was defending his brother, but Pikula's attorney said the shot came from across the room, after the fight had been broken up.

Chacon admitted he'd been drinking that night. A test taken four-and-a-half hours after the shooting revealed a blood alcohol content of .01 percent, well below the legal limit. Hutson said deputies commonly extrapolate blood alcohol levels based on time and other circumstances, but in the end, it's a guessing game. He said for every hour, a body typically burns off .01 percent of its alcohol content. The Highway Patrol uses a different figure, .015 percent, according to Lt. Steven Winward. Both, though, say there are numerous factors involved that can alter the numbers.

Hutson said the Sheriff's Office is also likely to review its policy regarding off-duty deputies and guns, but he said they won't jump to any conclusions without knowing all the circumstances. Right now, deputies are required to have their weapons readily accessible at all times.

"We are peace officers 24 hours a day," Hutson said. He said any alcohol use by deputies is a complicated issue to address. "It's a little bit ‘What if,'" Hutson said. "What if there was a scenario where you're a police officer and get in a situation where you can save a life?"

Last week, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office announced they would not pursue any charges against Chacon.

In fact, the only charges filed in the case so far have been against Pikula's brother, Arnold. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of assaulting a police officer. Another charge of sexual battery was dropped.

E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

Marc Giauque

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