A Florida deputy is facing a negligence charge after he allegedly shot a man with a stun gun at a gas station earlier this year, setting the gasoline-soaked man on fire and leaving him with severe burns.
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Deputy David Crawford will face a culpable negligence charge in the Feb. 27 incident that left 26-year-old Jean Barreto badly burned, Sheriff Marcos Lopez said Thursday, according to NBC affiliate WESH.
Lawyers for Barreto said he suffered third-degree burns on over 75 percent of his body during the incident that happened at a Wawa gas station in Orlando.
According to the sheriff’s office, Crawford and other deputies were trying to arrest Barreto, who allegedly fled after he was part of a group of motorcyclists that had been reportedly driving recklessly and pointing guns at people.
Officials said as deputies were trying to take Barreto into custody, his bike was knocked over, spilling fuel.
Crawford then deployed a Taser, igniting himself and Barreto. Video from a sheriff's office helicopter showed both men on fire.
Deploying the weapon engulfed “almost his entire body in flames and approximately half of the other deputy’s as well,” lawyers for Barreto said.
“This fireball, caused by the reckless, foolish, unnecessary" use of the stun gun, the statement said, led to "the horrific explosion, engulfing the two of them and injuring 2 other deputies with minor burns.”
Crawford was also hospitalized and later released.
"He was aware there was gas in the immediate area, he says 'kill the pump, there's gas,' he then grabbed a discarded Taser and told the suspect, 'you're about to get tased again dude,'" Lopez said. "His actions were reckless and the disregard for life rises to the level of culpable negligence."
Lopez said Thursday he did not send findings of an investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement because a firearm was not used and because he had “full faith” in his department’s integrity.
"I knew they would do their jobs regardless of who was involved," he said.
Lopez said the department's investigation concluded that Baretto should be charged with fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless driving and resisting without violence.
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