A San Diego County sheriff's deputy who shot a Spring Valley woman in her backyard as he searched for a suspicious man was identified Tuesday.
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Deputies were called to the 8900 block of Leigh Avenue shortly before 10:30 p.m. Sunday to investigate a suspicious man seen in the area wearing a ski mask, according to San Diego County sheriff's homicide Lt. Larry Nesbit.
Deputies arrived and determined the man had left the area, walking away in an eastbound direction, Nesbit said in a statement.
While checking for the man one to two blocks away from Leigh Avenue, deputies entered the backyard of a residence in the 200 block of Via Tapia, Nesbit said.
"At some point, while in the backyard of the residence, there was contact between the deputies, who had their weapons drawn, and a female resident of the home," Nesbit said. "During that contact, one of the deputies fired from his service weapon. The female was struck in the arm by the round."
On Tuesday, Deputy Luke Berhalter was identified as the law enforcement officer that opened fire on Jennifer Orey, who is retired from the U.S. Navy.
Orey was a swimmer for the Navy's Air and Sea rescue team and the first woman to earn Wings of Gold, according to family members.
10News learned the sheriff's department placed Berhalter on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Jim Morgan, the shooting victim's brother, told 10News her injuries show that she was shot in the chest, and not in the arm as the sheriff's department reported. 10News learned the bullet went through her left breast, into her arm and through her pinky.
"She's angry they don't want to be held accountable for they did
or take responsibility for their actions. She just wants them to own up to their mistake," said Morgan.
Morgan said his sister asked the deputy why he shot her.
"The cop said, 'Well, I'm sorry, you startled me,'" said Morgan.
Orey told her family she remembered the second she realized she was about to get shot.
"She saw the black smoke and the fire coming from the barrel," said Morgan. "When she got shot, her initial reaction was the pain and then she went to put her hand on the officer who shot her and he said, 'Get your hand off me.'"
Orey's father, Dennis Morgan, told 10News on Monday, "I told them I'm really pissed off. I'm pissed off as hell. A cop could have very easily killed my daughter."
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told 10News with assurance that Orey had been shot in the arm and that her pinky was "scratched."
Gore said the deputies thought Orey's open gate looked suspicious, so they went into her backyard. The deputies ran into Orey, and one of them had a "spontaneous reaction."
Authorities said they did not know exactly what prompted the shooting. They said Orey did not have anything in her hands and was not armed at the time.
Orey has been released from the hospital.
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