Clues are slow to emerge in overpass shooting investigation

KCSO deputy at center of South Kitsap shooting was involved in two previous shootings

PORT ORCHARD — The reasons why David Pruitte was shot and killed by a Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputy on a Bethel Burley Road overpass over Highway 16 still haven’t been revealed by a Kitsap Critical Incident Response Team investigating the incident.

Pruitte was shot Aug. 4 following calls by witnesses to Kitsap 911 that said the 36-year-old man was sitting on the overpass with his legs dangling over the edge. Pruitte was pronounced dead at a Tacoma hospital following the shooting.

The officer involved in the shooting was identified by KCIRT as Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy Andrew Hren. The deputy is a lateral transfer officer who joined KCSO in 2016 after serving three previous years in law enforcement, according to an Aug. 12 statement by the sheriff’s office.

In an updated statement on Aug. 13, Lt. Aaron Elton of the Bremerton Police Department and a member of the KCIRT team, said Kitsap 911 had received numerous calls from “concerned citizens who observed Pruitte’s alarming behavior.”

In the statement, Elton wrote that Kitsap 911 dispatch received a report of shots fired from a citizen witness on the scene. In addition to deputy Hren, a second deputy was there with Hren. Both deputies are said to be cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

“It was determined that this [second] deputy did not fire at Pruitte. Immediately following the shots being fired, deputies rendered aid to Pruitte,” the report stated.

A review of past KCSO incidents reported by Kitsap Daily News reveals that Hren was one of eight police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Robert D. Yeiser after a four-hour standoff July 8 at Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. Yeiser, 34, of Seattle was shot as he stood on the deck of his sailboat, the Flying Gull, after he reportedly fired nearly 200 rounds at random at the shoreline and at homes along the harbor before he was confronted by a police SWAT team in two police boats in the early morning hours of July 9, 2017.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson also confirmed to the Kitsap Daily News Aug. 13 that Hren was one of two deputies involved in a non-fatal shooting incident Sept. 23, 2017, stemming from a felony domestic violence assault in Bremerton.

In KCSO’s statement concerning the Pruitte shooting, Sheriff Gary Simpson said his office is cooperating with KCIRT in the investigation.

“We appreciate the careful outside investigation of the incident and have followed every procedure as prescribed by the rules that implement I-940 investigations of police use of force,” Simpson said in the statement. “We take seriously our commitment to transparency in this matter.”

KCSO said it has no direct involvement in the investigation by the multi-agency response team. The investigatory report will be completed and forwarded to the Kitsap County prosecutor for review and determination if any further action or charges are warranted, Wilson said. The completion date of the report has not been determined, he said.

KCIRT’s independent investigation is ongoing, the sheriff’s office stated in its release, and said it will provide additional information when it becomes available. The sheriff’s office said it will conduct an internal administrative investigation to determine if rules of conduct, policies or procedures were violated.

“It is standard procedure to initiate an internal investigation after the outside independent investigation has been completed,” KCSO’s statement read.