WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Family and friends of a man who died after being critically injured at a Westminster bar last weekend gathered at a park overlooking much of the city Tuesday night to remember their loved one.
Sam Pickel died early Tuesday morning after he was removed from life support. Friends of the 23-year-old blame a bouncer at Lodo’s Bar and Grill in Westminster for Pickel’s death.
They said the bouncer intervened in a dispute Pickel was having with another customer, placing him in a chokehold until he went into cardiac arrest.
“We were completely building our life together. We had talked about getting married and having kids together, and he was just completely taken away from us in a split second,” said Pickel’s girlfriend, Suzette Meacham.
Much of the incident was captured on surveillance video. Police are reviewing it as they decide whether to file charges in connection with Pickel’s death. They are also awaiting the results of an autopsy, which will determine how Pickel died.
Investigators said bars have varying policies regarding the use of chokeholds.
“You have to use caution when you use that type of force, but I can’t tell you black or white if they’re allowed to use it or not,” said Kate Kazell with the Westminster Police Department.
Pickel’s friends said they’re shocked this kind of thing would happen at Lodo’s because Pickel used to work there. His friends also considered it their neighborhood bar.
“Sammy knows everybody in that bar. You walk inside and everybody’s like there’s Sam,” Meacham said.
“That’s why we don’t go downtown because there’s a lot of that trouble downtown. This was home to us,” said Pickel’s friend, Alex Nelson.
However, the unthinkable happened and now Pickel is gone, a young man who will always be remembered not for how he died, but for how he lived.
A GoFundMe page has been established in Pickel’s name.