The Osceola sheriff’s office recommended a misdemeanor charge against the deputy for firing his taser next to a gas pump
Horrifying new body camera footage shows the moment a Florida sheriff deputy tasered a motorcyclist at a gas station and “cooked him alive” from the resulting explosive fire.
The footage, released by Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, shows the body camera video of Deputy David Crawford, who moments before firing the gasoline soaked taser at 26-year-old Jean Barreto, can be heard saying, “you’re about to get tased, dude”.
Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez recommended that both Barreto, who suffered third-degree burns to 75 per cent of his body, and Mr Crawford, who suffered second and third degree burns to his legs, should have charges filed against them, he said at a press conference on Thursday.
Sheriff Lopez said that Barreto, who remains in hospital and has undergone several surgeries since the 27 February incident, should be charged with reckless driving, fleeing and resisting arrest after he reportedly acted with “menace” while driving down the Osceola County area’s highways in a manner that he said was an attempt to evade the authorities tracking the motorcycle gang.
For Mr Crawford, the sheriff said during the press conference that he would recommend charges of culpable negligence, considered a misdemeanour.
“I believe there was no malice,” Sheriff Lopez said, noting that Mr Crawford suffered his own burn injuries from the incident. “[But] under the law his actions were reckless and held such a disregard for human life that it rises to the level of probable cause for culpable negligence.”
(The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office)
The Independent reached out to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office for comment and they’re media team referred to the press conference held by the sheriff’s office on Thursday, during which Sheriff Lopez recommended charging both men involved in the fiery gas station incident.
In the newly released video footage, Mr Crawford, whose body camera is being shown, can be heard shouting at Barreto to dismount from his motorcycle while he’s filling up.
A separate officer can then be seen firing an initial taser in the direction of Barreto, and then several of them attempt to tackle the 26-year-old to the ground, preventing him from resealing his gas tank.
(NeJame Law Offices)
Crawford, as Sheriff Lopez pointed out in the Thursday press conference, can then be heard acknowledging that gasoline was present, as he shouts out, “kill the pump” and “there’s gas”.
The sheriff department had previously released a statement indicating their policy around taser devices, which stipulated that these devices were not to be used on persons operating a motor vehicle or unarmed subjects that “could possibly be seriously injured by secondary factors as a results of CEW activation”, which included flammable substances.
Before the flames are engulfed around the men, a mumbled phrase can be heard from Mr Crawford as he informs the man that, “you’re about to get tasered again, dude”.
Within milliseconds, the entire frame of the video footage becomes engulfed in flames as you hear the deputy who pulled the taser’s trigger writhe on the ground in pain for about 30 seconds from the burns scorching through his clothes and onto his legs.
A separate video released from the sheriff’s office shows the perspective from Deputy Christopher Koffinas, who assisted in tackling and arresting Barreto initially.
In Mr Koffinas’s body camera you can also hear Mr Crawford announce that he is about to pull the trigger on the taser before you again see the footage become swarmed in an explosive fire.
You can then see Mr Koffinas go over to assist his colleague and attempt to put out the flames snaking around Mr Crawford’s legs, while another officer pours what appears to be Gatorade on the burning officer’s body.
Once the flames from Mr Crawford’s legs are put out, you can then hear Barreto shout out that he needs to be taken to a hospital, to which Mr Koffinas responds that they will, but he’d like to know “Why you were running?”
Barreto, who remains in hospital undergoing gruelling skin grafts, responds to the officer’s question by maintaining, “I wasn’t running”.
The lawyer representing Barreto, Mark NeJame, had said earlier last week that the sheriff’s comments of charging his client would be “retaliatory, unjustified and vindictive,” WESH reported.
Before officers arrived on the scene, Barreto has been pumping gas for just over a minute before deputies tackled him to the ground and proceeded to taser him which led to what his attorneys described as him getting “cooked alive”.
“He is wrapped and unwrapped in gauze daily, bleeding profusely still has he doesn’t have requisite amount of skin to contain his bodily fluids,” attorneys for Barreto said in a release last week.
Previously, the law office had been requesting that the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office provide them with access to the body-worn camera footage of the 27 February incident, but they have not released a statement since the late Friday night release of the new videos.
The Independent has reached out to Mr NeJame’s law office for comment on the newly released videos.
Mr Crawford, who suffered second and third-degree burns also from the 27 February incident, was reportedly bedridden initially from his injuries but has since been released.
A GoFundMe was set up on behalf of the injured deputy back in the winter, and raised $21,300 (£16,947), about $1,000 more than its $20,000 goal.
Mr Crawford did not respond for comment to The Independent.
Source: The Independent