Probe ensues when police Taser man who doused himself in hand sanitizer, then bursts into flames

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New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is looking into an incident involving police tasing of a man who burst into flames after dousing himself in hand sanitizer following his death earlier this week.

According to Fox News, Jason Jones, 29, became involved in an early morning confrontation with a Catskill, N.Y., police officer on Oct. 30 in a police station some 30 minutes south of Albany. Moments before he was tased, he sprayed himself with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The flames left Jones with major injuries and he died from them on Wednesday, James’ office said, in the same hospital where he had been for more than six weeks.

The network noted further that police in the small New York town don’t wear bodycams, but the incident is thought to have been recorded on surveillance cameras inside the police station, though that video has not been made public.

The incident occurred after Jones left a nearby bar and walked into the police station, where he is believed to have started a confrontation with officers around 1:30 a.m. the morning of Oct. 30, the Albany Times-Union reported.

A village police officer told another local paper called The Daily Mail that Jones “appeared to be intoxicated.”

“At one point Mr. Jones allegedly sprayed hand sanitizer on his body and head, and an officer used a Taser to subdue him, setting him on fire,” said New York state Attorney General Letitia James’ office in a statement issued on Thursday, utilizing a name of a stun gun brand.

A division of James’ office, the Office of Special Investigations, announced that officials there will look into the incident since state statutes automatically trigger such investigations resulting from any officer-involved death.

Following the incident, Jones was admitted to the burn unit at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse, where he died earlier this week. A follow-up autopsy is expected to not only determine his cause of death but also what role, if any, the stun gun played.

The Catskill PD’s use-of-force policy mandates that officers take into account all “environmental conditions or exigent circumstances” before they use anything “more than a firm grip” to subdue a suspect. In addition, officers are also advised not to tase anyone who is wet or standing in water.

“But Jones’ incident is not the first time a police stun gun lit a man doused in flammable liquid on fire,” Fox News reported.

According to court records, in July 2017 Gabriel Eduardo Olivas doused himself in gasoline and threatened to burn down his house with family members inside. At the time he was high on meth and had a lighter.

A police officer attempted to take him down with a stun gun, which resulted in setting Olivas and the home on fire. Those inside made it out safely but Olivas died from his injuries several days later, the outlet reported.

Jon Dougherty


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