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Kitsap County sheriff's deputy mistook pistol for Taser


BREMERTON, Wash. -- The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office has placed a deputy on administrative leave after the deputy shot and wounded a man in a tree with his gun instead of a Taser, the sheriff's office said.

The deputy meant to fire the Taser and not his gun on Thursday, but grabbed the wrong weapon, sheriff's office spokesman Scott Wilson told the Kitsap Sun.

The deputy has been with the sheriff's office for five years.

Deputies carry both a Taser and a gun on their utility belts. The Taser used is similar in shape to the .40-caliber compact model gun the deputy used, Wilson said.

The Taser is a handheld weapon that delivers an electric shock via two stainless steel barbs.

The man had been climbed high up a fig tree and had been there for several hours.

The shooting is under investigation by State Patrol detectives, Wilson said.

The man, believed to be in his 20s, was wounded in the leg and airlifted to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, where he was listed in satisfactory condition.

Deputies and Bremerton Fire and Rescue personnel were called to the site of the tree after an employee of a local business reported the man had climbed the tree and was acting strangely. The man had been in the tree and talking to himself when one employee arrived at work at 7:30 a.m.

Deputies and rescue personnel attempted to coax the man from the tree for almost two hours before he was shot. During that time, the man was becoming increasingly hostile toward rescue personnel and deputies trying to get him out of the tree, witness David Blakeslee told the newspaper.

Deputies were unsure whether the man was intoxicated, on drugs, or possibly experiencing a psychotic episode. They wanted to get him down before he hurt himself or others, Wilson said.

One deputy attempted to discharge a Taser at the man, but when it did not work asked another deputy to fire a Taser. Instead of grabbing the Taser, the deputy grabbed and fired the gun, Wilson said.

Blakeslee, an employee with nearby B&B Auto Repair, described the man's reaction to getting shot.

"He said, 'Ow, that hurt, I'm coming down, I'm coming down,'" Blakeslee said.

The man climbed down the tree on his own where medical personnel were waiting, Blakeslee said.

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