State takes no disciplinary action after security guard fires shot into ceiling
(KUTV) A trip to a Utah Driver's License Division office was more eventful than expected for several customers last summer after a scuffle led to a security guard firing his gun into the ceiling.
The shot triggered a series of questions about why the guard fired his weapon and whether or not he should have been protecting the DLD with a gun.
After five months of pursuing public records in the case, 2NEWS has obtained surveillance video of the incident, as well as documents that show concerns about the guard's actions and his background.
The ordeal began Aug. 31, 2015 when staff at the DLD office in West Valley City told Rujal Abdi, 23, that he did not qualify for a driver's license. Investigators say Abdi became upset and refused to leave.
In the surveillance video, armed security guard Dmitry Novik,34, can be seen escorting Abdi towards the door.
As they approach the door, the two begin to struggle and end up fighting on the floor as bystanders rush in and pull Abdi off Novik.
Once he gets free, Novik is seen in the video standing up and firing his weapon into the ceiling. Bystanders ran away from the guard as he continued to point the gun at Abdi until police arrived minutes later.
West Valley City police charged Abdi with assault, and questioned Novik for firing into the ceiling.
"The very fact that a firearm went off is not what I would ever hope for," Utah Driver's License Division Director Chris Caras said. "Our main concern is the safety of the citizens coming in and the staff in that building."
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Caras says the DLD immediately began reviewing their security protocols in all their offices, questioning the guard's training if he thought it was appropriate to shoot into the ceiling.
But neither Caras, nor his department had much control of who was guarding their offices.
"I think it's important to understand that the security guard is actually a person who works for a private contractor," Caras said.
The private contractor was Citadel-Chapman Security from Colorado. Company officials say they suspended Novik after the incident, and that he later resigned.
But the shot into the ceiling was not the first time Citadel-Chapman had dealt with an incident involving Novik. Months before the shooting, the Utah Department of Public Safety, which oversees the DLD, charged Novik for possessing a gun on school property - a class A misdemeanor.
Citadel reported the charge to the Utah Division of Professional Licensing. Division spokesperson Jennifer Bolton would not comment on Novik's case specifically, but said a similar charge would likely cause his license as an armed guard to be reviewed.
"Following a class A misdemeanor weapons conviction, the Division would determine the appropriate action to take. It is likely division staff would review the information with a consulting member of the Security Services Licensing Board. Any disciplinary action would either be determined by settlement or recommended by the Board," Bolton said.
According to Division records, no actions were taken against Novik's license.
Armed-security guard instructor Clark Aposhian said it would be unlikely that a guard's license would be suspended until the charges were resolved in court.
"Generally speaking, they have to wait for an adjudication from the courts to act on a person's license," Aposhian said. "But, I would imagine there's going to be some explaining to do. That officer is going to have to articulate exactly why he believed it was necessary to fire a firearm."
Novik's explanation of the shooting didn't satisfy West Valley City Police detectives, who asked the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office to file charges against him for the incident. In a review of the case, the DA rejected filing charges against Novik, citing that they did not believe a jury would convict him.
Since charges were rejected, the Division of Professional Licensing took no action against Novik's license, which remains spotless.
Novik's attorney, Lorenzo Miller, says Novik is an outstanding security guard with a solid record. Speaking with 2NEWS Monday afternoon, Miller points out that the previous weapons charge was not a serious gun crime, and was brought after Novik had his service weapon inside his backpack while at the testing center at Salt Lake Community College, a case which is still awaiting trial.
If he is found guilty at trial, something Miller says is unlikely, the state licensing board could take disciplinary action against Novik's license.
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