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Sheriff’s deputy mistakes pistol for Taser

/ Source: The Associated Press

A sheriff's deputy who was trying to get a man down from a tree shot and wounded him after mistakenly pulling a gun instead of a Taser, authorities say.

The deputy, a five-year veteran of the force whose name was not released, was placed on leave while Thursday's shooting is investigated.

Deputies carry both a Taser and a gun on their utility belts. The Taser, or stun gun, is similar in shape to the compact .40-caliber gun the deputy carried, sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilson said.

The victim was listed in satisfactory condition.

The man had climbed a fig tree and stayed there for hours, talking to himself. Deputies were unsure whether he was intoxicated or psychotic, and they wanted to get him down before he hurt himself or others, Wilson said.

Deputies and rescue workers tried to coax him down for almost two hours, during which he became increasingly hostile, said David Blakeslee, an employee at an auto repair shop nearby.

Blakeslee said the man climbed down on his own after getting shot.

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