District Attorney Rules Holladay Police Shooting Legally Justified

Jun 11, 2021, 7:42 PM | Updated: 8:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – While releasing the findings of an investigation into a police shooting that happened in Holladay last fall, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill took time to praise the actions of the first officer on the scene.

“This officer was doing everything right,” Gill said about Unified Police Officer Jason Hudgens.

Gill announced that the Officer Involved Critical Incident investigation found that the second officer to arrive, John Saulnier, was legally justified in shooting and injuring Eric Wyatt Pectol.

On the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2020, Hudgens was at a gas station, about to fill up his police SUV, when he witnessed a crash in the intersection of 4500 South and 2300 East.

In Gill’s 27-page report, investigators wrote that Pectol initially stopped at the red light, but then ran the light. A pickup truck then hit the back of Pectol’s motorcycle, knocking him to the ground.

“Officer Hudgens immediately ran over to see if there were any injuries,” the report said. “Mr. Pectol jumped up and began running, and Officer Hudgens yelled, ‘Hey, where you going?’”

Pectol ran a short distance away where Hudgens confronted him again and told him to stop, according to the report.

“An encounter ensued and Mr. Pectol reached down his pants and told Officer Hudgens that he had a gun,” the report said. “Officer Hudgens pointed his handgun at Mr. Pectol and gave him commands.”

Hudgens told investigators he didn’t see a gun on Pectol and decided to switch to a taser during the pursuit.

“At that moment, he valued that person – the suspect’s life – and he put his life in danger,” Gill said.

Gill said Hudgens showed “incredible insightfulness” in making the analysis during a highly dynamic situation

“Here’s a situation when an officer does exactly what they’re trained to do and does it with a kind of professionalism and discipline,” Gill went on to say. “I think that needs to be commended and acknowledged.”

In a field on the northeast corner of the intersection, the report stated that Pectol turned and ran toward Hudgens.

“Officer Hudgens deployed his taser, but the taser had no effect and Mr. Pectol closed the distance,” investigators wrote in the report. “Officer Hudgens continued to move backwards and began transitioning back to his handgun.”

During the struggle, Hudgens fell to the ground and his gun left his hand and landed on the ground, the report said. Pectol immediately ran over and picked up the gun.

Officer Saulnier had arrived at the scene and was watching the fight and told investigators he saw Pectol point the gun at Hudgens and yelled at him to drop the gun. Saulnier said Pectol then turned and pointed the gun at him.

“Officer Saulnier said he saw the muzzle flash and heard the snap of a bullet coming by,” the report said. “Officer Saulnier returned fire, injuring Mr. Pectol.”

Pectol survived and later told investigators he never wanted to hurt police, but wanted police to kill him. He also denied shooting the gun. However, investigators report finding a bullet in a nearby apartment that matches the direction of where Saulnier said Pectol fired the gun.

Gill said his office declined to file criminal charges against Saulnier

“We find Officer Saulnier’s use of deadly force to be justified, and he is entitled to the affirmative legal defense of justification under Utah State law,” Gill’s report said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Karah Brackin

Granite School District facing staffing shortages

Despite the pandemic, Granite School District’s spokesperson, Ben Horsley, said they have always needed more paraeducators. 
13 hours ago
Orem High School student council and cheerleaders getting ready to welcome their fellow students....
Matt Rascon

Thousands of students return to school in Alpine School District

The Alpine School District readies itself to welcome its 85,000 students back to the classroom.
13 hours ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Provo sculptor to unveil latest creation at Little League World Series this week

For the first time, a team from Utah is in the Little League World Series. The tournament in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, will also feature a Utah sculptor who will be unveiling quite a statue.
13 hours ago
(Weber County Sheriff's Office)...
Madison Swenson

Vehicle recovered from Pineview Reservoir after leaving roadway

A vehicle was recovered from Pineview Reservoir Tuesday after authorities say it left the roadway.
13 hours ago
First responders at the fatal crash on Trappers Loop. (Mountain Green Fire Protection District)...
Michael Houck

Motorcyclist dead after crash, thrown ‘150 feet’ into embankment on Trappers Loop 

A motorcyclist is dead after a crash on Trappers Loop, causing him to be thrown down the embankment.
13 hours ago
Taylorsville police at the scene of the fatal shooting. (Taylorsville Police)...
Michael Houck & Karah Brackin

Police: Man, woman found dead in Taylorsville shooting

A man and woman were found dead with gunshot wounds in Taylorsville Wednesday morning, according to police.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
District Attorney Rules Holladay Police Shooting Legally Justified