A deputy sheriff in Florida will be charged for his role in an altercation that left a suspect badly burned after he was set ablaze by the officer's stun gun, according to the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office.
David Crawford faces one count of culpable negligence with personal injury, in connection to the 2022 incident at a Wawa gas station.
"Deputy 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," State Attorney Monique Worrell said in a news release, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
According to Worrell’s office, the victim had second-degree and third-degree burns on about 75% of his body.
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The incident in question happened in February 2022, when Crawford was responding to calls of a group of motorcyclists driving recklessly. Body cam video released during the investigation shows Crawford following and then tackling -- without announcing himself -- a biker, Jean Barretto Baerga, while he was pumping gas at the Wawa. As gasoline spilled around Baerga, Crawford said: "You're gonna get Tased again, dude," and fired his Taser, igniting the blaze.
In a statement to NBC affiliate WESH 2, Barretto’s attorney, Mark NeJame, praised the charges and said: "As of six months ago, he had over $7 million in medical expenses. He's been released for a few months now but his care is constant."
Crawford has been on administrative leave since the sheriff's office first recommended the charges last May. Another officer who also used his Taser on Baerga received a 40-hour unpaid suspension for firing the stun gun first but is not facing charges.
According to WFTV 9, if convicted, the misdemeanor charge Crawford faces can carry a punishment of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
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