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Sheriff’s deputy accidently shoots man in a tree

A Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to use her Taser on a distraught man in a tree Thursday afternoon, but accidently shot him in the leg.

Police were called to a vacant lot in the 200 block of National Avenue South in Navy Yard City after a 911 call came in at 11:40 a.m. about a man in a tree.

The man, described as white and in his mid-20s, was about 20 feet up in the tree. Several deputies and firefighters from South Kitsap Fire & Rescue were trying to bring the man down from the tree, when eyewitnesses said, the shot rang out.

“He was making irrational statements while up in the tree, we don’t know if he was suicidal,” Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said.

A male deputy at the scene initially tried to use his Taser on the man, but was unsuccessful.

“He requested an additional application (of a Taser),” Wilson said.

Instead of drawing her department-issued Taser from its belt holster, the deputy accidently grabbed her department-issued .40-caliber pistol and fired a single bullet into the man’s leg. The wounded man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. His status at press time was unknown.

“The deputy reached for what (she) thought was a Taser and instead drew a firearm,” Wilson said. “We’re looking at it as an accidental shooting and it is being investigated by the Washington State Patrol.”

The deputy, a five-year veteran, has been placed on administrative leave. Officials are not releasing her name.

An anonymous eyewitness said the deputy was distressed by the shooting. “She was on her hands and knees crying, like it was an accident,” the witness said. “The way she came over and the way the deputies came over, I think it was accidental.”

According to the 911 caller, who also wished to remain anonymous, the man had been at the lot all morning. The caller could hear the man talking to himself.

“He was there first thing in the morning,” the caller said. “He was talking to himself at a normal tone and was talking about time on the job and what he could see there. He was having full-blown conversations. I first thought he was on a cell phone, but he wasn’t.”

He says it was after 11 a.m. when he went across the street and found the man strapped in the tree and called 911.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived as well as a SKFR ladder truck. The deputies attempted to talk the man into coming down from the tree, according to the caller.

“They talked to him for an hour-and-a-half trying to get him to come down,” he said.

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