No charges filed against bouncer in chokehold death

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- No charges will be filed in the death of a man at a Westminster bar in March, Adams and Broomfield counties District Attorney Dave Young said Wednesday.

Sam Pickel, 23, was injured after he was subdued by a bouncer at LoDo's Bar and Grill on March 12. Friends and family members said he was put in a chokehold by the bouncers. Pickel was removed from life support three days later.

Young decided not to file criminal charges, saying in a news release there's not enough to disprove "self-defense in this matter beyond a reasonable doubt."

The investigation included video of parts of the confrontation as well as statements from 30 witnesses.

Young said the video shows Pickel pushing another man at the bar, causing four bouncers to react. He was asked to leave but refused and started yelling obscenities. Pickel then “takes a fighting stance” before taking a swing at a bouncer.

“One bouncer described him as a mountain, that he was 6-foot-5 and well over 300 pounds,” Young said. “(Bouncers) were all in fear for their life and what they were trying to do is restrain him so he would not hurt any of them or anyone else in the bar.”

One of the bouncers grabbed Pickel from behind in a chokehold, forcing him to the ground and out of the camera’s view.

“This bouncer was seen right around three minutes after they went to the ground in the video. That’s why I say we know it wasn’t longer than three minutes it was probably much less,” Young said about time Pickel was in a chokehold. “Now, if it was a 10-minute chokehold, maybe our analysis would be a little different.”

Young said it’s tough for a family to find justice when a loved one is lost, but he believes he is doing the right thing.

“It would be very easy for me to say let’s file charges and let a jury decide,” Young said. “But that’s not what I was elected to do. I’m elected to do the right thing and the right thing in this case is determining what we can prove and what we can’t prove."

The Pickel family had no comment.

Young said the video used in the investigation will be released next week.

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