San Juan County Sheriff's Office
San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge was charged Friday, May 12, 2017, with retaliating against a former employee who reported alleged misconduct to the Utah Attorney General's Office, and then trying to obstruct the investigation into the allegations.

MONTICELLO — Prosecutors will not appeal the dismissal of a case alleging that San Juan County's sheriff pulled the trigger of an unloaded rifle aimed at his deputy, then fired the officer in retaliation for reporting the incident.

As part of a deal with the Utah Attorney General's Office, Sheriff Rick Eldredge admitted that he inadvertently aimed his gun at his deputy, Todd Bristol, near a gun range, Spencer Austin, the attorney general's chief criminal deputy, said in a statement.

Eldredge would not have been charged if he had remembered the mistake earlier in the case and addressed it then, Austin said. He will take gun safety and de-escalation training with the attorney general's office as part of the deal.

A judge in Utah's 7th District Court tossed the case in November. Prosecutors in December said they would appeal.

They are confident they would win, but the ongoing case "would eat up limited resources" of both offices and is not in Utah's best interest given the agreement, Austin said.

His office takes no pleasure in prosecuting fellow law enforcers and had no personal agenda, he said.

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Bristol had testified that on May 26, 2015, he passed the sheriff examining a rifle with the firearms range master, then heard "a click of a dry firearm," and saw the gun pointed at him.

Judge George Harmond ruled that Bristol was not terminated for reporting the incident. He dropped charges against two other deputies — the range master and another who led an internal investigation.

Eldredge originally was charged with witness retaliation, a felony; and obstruction of justice, official misconduct and reckless endangerment, all misdemeanors.