In Florida, Osceola County Deputy David Crawford has been charged with culpable negligence after videos surfaced of him firing a Taser at a man soaked in gasoline, resulting in a fireball that burned almost three-quarters of his body.
The incident occurred on February 27, 2022, at a Wawa gas station in Orange County. The victim’s lawyer remarked, “They’re supposed to be our protectors, not our ignitors.” He also told The Daily Beast that his client was “cooked alive” by police.
The bodycam footage showed Crawford tackling the suspect, Jean Barretto Baerga, who had reportedly been followed by officers responding to reports of reckless driving.
According to Sheriff Marcos López, on his motorcycle, Baerga had run red lights, ridden on the sidewalk and grass, and gone toward oncoming traffic before arriving at the gas station.
As the suspect lay in a pool of gasoline, Crawford yelled, “Kill the pump! Kill the pump! There’s gas!” At this time, another deputy, Christopher Koffinas, tased Baerga without incident. After this, Crawford was heard saying, “You’re gonna get tased again, dude!” before the Taser ignited an explosion.
State Attorney Monique Worrell stated that Crawford had “recklessly deployed a Taser,” leading to Baerga’s severe burns covering 75% of his body. Baerga’s medical costs are estimated to be around $7 million, and his lawyers plan to recoup this from the sheriff’s office.
Meanwhile, the other deputy involved, Christopher Koffinas, received a 40-hour unpaid suspension for firing his stun gun but is not facing criminal charges. The sheriff’s office stated that it is right to let the criminal justice system determine if Crawford’s actions constituted a criminal act.