Update | Suspect in botched drug deal shooting will not be charged with murder

Prosecutors say murder charges won’t be filed due to difficulty disproving self-defense

Murder charges will not be filed against the man who allegedly shot and killed a 24-year-old man in Bremerton on Saturday, in what Bremerton Police Detective Keith Sargent is calling a “drug deal gone bad.”

The incident occurred in the 1500 block of Naval Avenue around 3:30 p.m. when the victim allegedly pulled a knife on Elijah Steele, claiming that he had sold him “fake cocaine” court documents say. Steele then fatally shot the victim with a .45 caliber handgun.

According to a statement of probable cause, Steele met with the victim at a Bremerton park with the intent of selling him cocaine, some two hours prior to the shooting. After the transaction occurred, the victim allegedly began complaining that he had been sold fake cocaine. Steele and the victim, along with another individual — a cousin of the victim — agreed to meet up again at Naval Avenue, documents read.

The victim’s cousin told authorities that the victim had been holding a knife when he approached Steele’s vehicle and moved the blade toward Steele’s throat as he sat in the driver’s seat. According to statements made to Bremerton Police, the cousin then heard a “pop,” and watched the victim fall to the ground.

Steele was arrested and initially booked into Kitsap County Jail for murder in the second degree, however, the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office has since changed the charge to delivery of a controlled substance, citing that they would be unable to disprove a self-defense claim.

“We didn’t think that we’d be able to overcome a self-defense claim,” said Cami Lewis of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office. “That would be something that we would be required to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt and we would not be able to do that.”

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office is expected to conduct on autopsy on the victim Wednesday.