Deputy charged more than year after deploying Taser, setting man covered in fuel on fire in Florida

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — A deputy in Osceola County, Florida, is facing charges after he reportedly deployed a stun gun on a man who was covered in fuel in February 2022, officials say.

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In a news release, the State Attorney of the Ninth Judicial District said charges were filed on Thursday against Osceola County Deputy David Crawford. Crawford was charged with a count of culpable negligence with personal injury in an incident that started as a pursuit but ended up with an explosion at a gas station.

The state attorney’s office said the man Crawford was trying to detain was injured significantly in the explosion.

Jean Baretto sustained second- and third-degree burns to about 75% of his body, according to NBC News.

“He was being pursued by deputies for allegedly violating traffic laws as he ‘popped wheelies’ in traffic while on his dirt bike,” the state attorney’s office said, according to NBC News.

Crawford tackled Baretto while other deputies assisted, the state attorney’s office said.

“Crawford recklessly deployed a taser at the victim who had become soaked in gasoline, and as a result, caused the explosion that injured the victim,” the state attorney’s office said.

Baretto’s attorney, Mark NeJame, told NBC News that Baretto will require care for the rest of his life and his medical expenses have already cost around $7 million.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said last year they sent their findings in their own investigation over to the state attorney’s office. According to a statement obtained by the news outlet, they said they will allow the criminal justice to decide if what Crawford did was criminal.

If convicted, Crawford could face a year in jail as well as a possible fine of up to $1,000, the state attorney’s office said.

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