A 26-year-old Florida man who was set on fire when a police officer shocked him earlier this year could still face criminal charges, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez announced this week.
The officer who used the Taser, Deputy David Crawford, has been furloughed and will face a misdemeanor charge of negligence, Lopez said Thursday.
Jean Barreto had popped a wheelie and fled from an attempted traffic stop on his dirt bike. He dodged cars and onto the sidewalk before stopping to refuel at a station in Wawa on February 27.
There, officers confronted him. Barreto hadn’t put the gas cap back on when officers tried to handcuff him, flipping his dirt bike and spilling gas on the sidewalk, Lopez said at a news conference. An officer tried to use his Taser on Barreto to subdue him.
The sheriff, citing body camera footage, said Crawford noticed the gas and yelled, “Stop the pump! Kill the pump! There is gas!
Crawford then picked up the Taser from the other officer, who was sitting in the gas, and said, “You’re about to get Tased, man,” according to Lopez.
The resulting fireball “engulfed” Barreto and Crawford and injured two other deputies at the scene, Lopez said. Security camera footage shows bright light and sudden flames as the Taser was apparently fired.
Barreto’s lawyers from the NeJame Law group said in a Facebook post that their client had spent 10 weeks in hospital so far and would soon be placed in a medically induced coma.
“He is skinless over most of his body, his skin having been burned off,” the post read. “He undergoes procedures that require his dead skin to be systematically removed from his body. He is wrapped and unwrapped daily in gauze, still bleeding profusely as he does not have the required amount of skin to hold his bodily fluids.
The law firm alleged the deputies only called for emergency help for fellow police officers, not Barreto, and called on the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to release camera footage bodily injury and reports from deputies about the incident, accusing the police department of not living. living up to its promise of transparency.
The sheriff said the department needed weeks to complete its internal investigation.
Barreto had been “cooked alive”, NeJame Law said, sustaining burns over approximately 75% of his body, “from the front and back of his feet down to the bottom of his neck”.
Still, Lopez told the press conference that Barreto could face charges of fleeing law enforcement, reckless driving and resisting officers.
Police had suspected Barreto of being part of a group of area bikers who did not obey traffic laws – locals had previously made several 911 calls complaining about the group, with some claiming to have seen a gun .
Officers were about to arrest Barreto when he drove away, joining the group of bikers and weaving between cars before taking off to refuel. Using helicopter footage, Barreto was identified as a runner seen running through multiple red lights.
Barreto’s attorneys said their client had no criminal record and worked at FedEx until he suffered his debilitating injury.