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Shooting by deputy in Navy Yard City described as "accidental"

William A. Jones was in one of the trees to the right in this vacant lot in the 200 block of National Avenue South in Navy Yard City when he was accidently shot by a Sheriff’s deputy Thursday afternoon. - Photo by Jesse Beals
William A. Jones was in one of the trees to the right in this vacant lot in the 200 block of National Avenue South in Navy Yard City when he was accidently shot by a Sheriff’s deputy Thursday afternoon.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

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, identified by authorities as William A. Jones, 32, of Bremerton, was about 20 feet up in the tree. Several deputies and firefighters from the Bremerton Fire Department were trying to bring Jones 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 Jones, but was unsuccessful.

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

Instead of drawing her department-issued Taser from its belt holster, a deputy accidently grabbed her department-issued .40-caliber pistol and fired a single bullet into Jones’ leg. Jones was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he is listed in stable condition.

“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.”

“We are very concerned about the welfare of this person,” Sheriff Steve Boyer said. “But this incident, as tragic as it is, brings to the forefront two issues: Training is effective and humans do make mistakes.

“The deputies involved responded to the call and attempted to resolve this situation utilizing available resources, as they have been trained. At some point the man refused to cooperate further. A decision was made to employ a less lethal use of force again, as trained. The second deputy reacted instantaneously to the first deputy’s command, per past training, but mistakenly unholstered a firearm instead of the Taser. That, unfortunately, is human error.”

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office administration will review the agency’s inventory and policy regarding current Taser models, and related support items, to prevent a reoccurrence of a similar incident, according to the department. There is no plan to remove the Taser from agency service.

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, David Blakeslee, Jones had been at the lot all morning. Blakeslee could hear him talking to himself.

“He was there first thing in the morning,” Blakeslee 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.”

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

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

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

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