Cop charged after tasing man at gas station, setting fire which 'cooked him alive'
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Featured Image Credit: Osceola County Sheriff’s Office/ Nejame Law
A police officer in Osceola County, Florida has been charged for tasing a man at a gas station, igniting a fireball and causing serious injuries.
Deputy Crawford had been apprehending biker Jean Barreto Baerga, who had been accused of driving recklessly on the roads that day.
According to both the sheriff's office and the State Attorney's office, Baerga had been running red lights, heading toward oncoming traffic, and driving on the sidewalk and the grass.
In body cam footage, Deputy Crawford can be seen pulling in to Wawa gas station after Baerga before tackling him to the ground.
When Crawford pulls out his taser, another deputy can be heard shouting: "Kill the pump! Kill the pump! There's gas!"
Still, Crawford raises his taser, and can be heard telling the suspect, who was at this point lying in a puddle of gasoline: "You're gonna get tased again, dude."
The taser caused an immediate explosion, leaving the suspect with severe burns.
In CCTV footage from the incident, one individual can be seen rolling around frantically on the ground trying to put out the flames on their body.
Baerga's lawyer Mark NeJame says that he suffered both second and third-degree burns on about three quarters of his body, and the only parts that weren't injured were his masked face, his gloved hands, and his feet, saying Baerga has been 'cooked alive'.
They also stated that, as a result, Baerga has racked up an eye-watering $7 million in medical expenses.
“He barely survived. His life will always be in jeopardy because of the massive amount of scar tissue and damage that happened to his body," NeJame said of his client, according to Orlando Sentinel.
"He’s doing his best to get through his life with these cards that have been dealt to him.
"If he was driving recklessly, charge him with reckless driving, but you don’t almost kill somebody and set them on fire.
"You cannot have law enforcement running amok. They’re supposed to be our protectors, not our ignitors."
NeJame has also argued that Deputy Crawford's culpable negligence charge doesn't speak 'to the severity of the negligence and the severity of the injuries', and is calling for legislature to be updated so that if an incident like this occurs again, 'it does allow for a felony'.
When asked for comment on this, the sheriff's office told Fox 35: "We feel it's appropriate to let the criminal justice system determine if Deputy Crawford did a criminal act that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."