Shooting of man who took officer's gun ruled justified

Posted at 2:00 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 22:13:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY — An Unified Police officer was praised Friday for his attempts to deescalate a violent situation that put his own life at risk. The accolades came while Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill ruled a police shooting that followed was justified.

Gill said the situation on Sept. 17, 2020 developed rapidly.

While officers failed to activate body-worn cameras until after the shooting, Gill said they did the right thing.

Officer Charles Saulnier will not face any charges in connection to the shooting of Eric Wyatt Pectol on Sept. 17, 2020. Pectol, 49, survived the shooting and was hospitalized following the incident.

READ: Officer justified in 2020 shooting of suicidal man in Holladay

According to officials, another Unified officer, Jason Hudgens, witnessed a motorcycle traffic accident and went to help the rider who was later identified as Pectol. Instead of staying at the scene, Pectol fled and ran alongside a bus where he told Hudgens he had a gun.

As Pectol moved and ran towards a field, Hudgens used his taser to no effect. During an altercation between the two, Hudgens' handgun fell to the ground where Pectol picked it up.

Saulnier saw the altercation and ran to assist when he saw Pectol pick up Hudgens' gun and point it towards the officer.

“At that moment, he valued that suspect’s life. He put his life in danger and at that point, was on the threshold of a fatal situation,” said Gill.

Pectol then saw Saulnier approach and pointed the weapon towards him and fired, leading Saulnier to return gunfire.

READ: DA rules officers justified in fatal Midvale shooting

“We review these things, we call them like we see them and this is an example where an officer does exactly what he was trained to do,” said Gill.

An investigation showed that Pectol was a parole fugitive and was wanted in relation to a traffic accident the week before the shooting. Pectol reportedly told a family member that he was "going to commit suicide" before leaving on his motorcycle on Sept. 17.

"I never wanted to hurt him, I wanted him to kill me," Pectol told investigators about the shooting incident with the officer.

Pectol denied shooting at Saulnier, but did admit to picking up Hudgens' gun and pointing it at both officers.

Pectol's attorney did not return FOX 13s request for comment.

As for the car crash involving Pectol on Sept. 11, 2020, two felony charges were dismissed in March 2021. He was accused of driving drunk in Duchesne County when the car crashed, seriously injuring a passenger. On Thursday, that woman filed a civil suit against Pectol and the bar she accuses of over-serving him.