Lawyers representing a Florida man who was "cooked alive" are demanding a full investigation into an incident that left their client hospitalized with third-degree burns.
Osceola County Sheriff's deputies confronted Jean Barreto, 26, at a Wawa gas station on February 27 after receiving multiple reports of dirt bike riders threatening people with guns.
As Barreto was filling up the tank of his dirt bike with gas, he was tackled from behind, knocking his dirt bike over and causing the gasoline to spill. One of the responding officers then used his taser, which caused the gasoline to ignite. The flames engulfed Barreto, leaving him the third-degree burns over most of his body. Two other officers also suffered burn injuries.
"Seeing the deputy and Mr. Barreto on the ground as a result of the deputy’s flying tackle, one of the deputies who appeared in one of the three vehicles, proceeded to employ the use of a taser on Mr. Barreto, engulfing almost his entire body in flames and approximately half of the other deputy’s as well," the NeJame Law Office wrote in a statement on Facebook. "This fireball, caused by the reckless, foolish, unnecessary and deadly tasing leading to the horrific explosion, engulfing the two of them and injuring 2 other deputies with minor burns."
Barreto was not armed and the deputies followed him out of their jurisdiction.
The deputy who fired the taser, identified as David Crawford, was charged with culpable negligence following an internal investigation. Barreto is facing charges of fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless driving, and resisting without violence.
Barreto's lawyers said they believe the department should not have handled the investigation and are asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the case.
Barreto remains hospitalized and must undergo "excruciating" treatments as he continues to slowly heal.
“Mr. Barreto is still undergoing potentially life saving but excruciating ... treatment,” the statement said. “He is without skin on most of his body, his skin having been burned off. He undergoes procedures that require his dead skin to be routinely peeled off of his body."