Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Patrolman Lawrence Pucalik was shot and killed while working an off-duty security job at a Holiday Inn hotel.
While in an office nearby, he heard a commotion at the front desk as two suspects entered and attempted to rob the hotel clerk. As Patrolman Pucalik came out of the office with his gun drawn the suspects opened fire, striking him in the neck. He was transported to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago where he died a short time later.
Over 31 years later, three male suspects were charged with murder in June 2012. One suspect, who was 31 years old in 1980, was found medically incompetent to stand trial and charges against him were dismissed in 2014.
Charges against the second suspect, who was 17 years old in 1980, were dismissed in 2014 but in 2016 he was again charged. In 2018, he was found guilty by a jury of murder while committing robbery and attempted robbery, and sentenced to 47 years in prison.
In 2019, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld his conviction but ordered the trial court to resentence him and in 2020, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. In May 2021, his sentence was set aside due to the state failing to disclose exculpatory DNA evidence.
In March 2022, a motion by the state to dismiss the charges against him and a third suspect, who was 30 years old at the time of the incident, was granted as there was insufficient credible evidence to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Patrolman Pucalik was to have received his department's ''Top Gun'' award later that same day. He was survived by his wife, daughter and son.
United States Navy