An off-duty East Chicago Police officer shot over the weekend at a Northwest Indiana bar was involved in another fight at that same bar in September during which he pulled his gun on a patron, WBEZ has learned.
In the most recent incident, officer David Aguilera was grazed in the head and another off-duty police officer from Gary suffered a shot to his forearm, according to Highland police. Both Aguilera and the Gary officer have been treated and released from hospitals.
The incident was the second violent encounter for Aguilera while off-duty at Growlers bar in Highland, Indiana.
A Highland police report obtained by WBEZ shows last September, Aguilera pointed his gun at patron Heath Reid during a scuffle.
Reid, who lives in Hammond and works as a bartender at another brew pub, said he was at Growlers and went to the bathroom.
He said someone was blocking the door.
“I just assumed that somebody was in there doing drugs or something,” Reid said. “So, I yelled, ‘Go do your drugs somewhere else. I have to [use the bathroom]’ A voice on the other side yelled, “F--- you!’”
Reid said he shoved his way in. That’s when he saw someone, who was later identified as Aguilera.
“He grabbed me by my shirt and beard, and then pulled his gun out and pointed it directly in my face,” Reid said. “I grabbed his wrist and his gun hand and pushed him into the sink. When I pushed him into the sink, somebody who he was with who was in the men’s stall had exited the stall and tried to bear hug me from behind. I whipped that guy off of me and got out of the bathroom.”
Reid said he called for help. Eventually, Reid said, Aguilera left the bar before Highland police arrived.
Reid’s version of events is documented in a Highland police report filed on the night of the incident.
According to that report, Aguilera also provided a statement to Highland police about what happened. Aguilera told police that he pulled the gun on Reid because he feared for his safety.
Reid says he was contacted by East Chicago Police Chief Frank Smith about the incident but hasn’t heard from the chief since their initial conversation eight months ago.
Smith has not returned several calls seeking comment.
“Absolutely, he should be terminated off the force,” Reid said after hearing about this weekend’s shooting incident. “I don’t think he should be a police officer or any kind of authority whatsoever.”
According to the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, which is investigating Saturday’s shooting, two males who were detained have been released from police custody without charges being filed.