Shocking video shows a massive gas station fire Florida state investigators say was ignited by a deputy’s Taser deployed while law enforcement officers attempted to take a motorcycle driver into custody.
FOX 35 Orlando obtained the surveillance footage showing the February incident at a Wawa gas station in Osceola County. Video shows a large fireball erupt from a gas pump and at least one man engulfed in flames is seen rolling across the cement. One car at the station pulls out of the lot to escape the blaze.
A report released by the state fire marshal says the most probable cause of the fire was an electric discharge from the deputy’s deployment of a department issued Taser device, and the ignition of the fire was accidental. The motorcycle driver, 26-year-old Jean Baretto, suffered third-degree burns to 75% of his body and remains hospitalized months later, his lawyers, Mark NeJame and Albert Yonfa, said.
The Florida’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services’ report released Wednesday said Baretto is not expected to survive his injuries. NeJame, also representing suspects involved in an unrelated recent Kissimmee, Florida, deputy-involved shooting in a Target parking lot, said the motorcycle driver was a "good young man" who held a job at FedEx and that deputies sought to arrest the wrong guy.
The Osceola County Sheriff's Office is recommending a charge of culpable negligence against the deputy, while also recommending multiple charges against Barreto: fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless driving, a three-wheelie offense and resisting an officer without violence.
In February, the sheriff's office said in a statement that deputies received reports of people on motorcycles pointing guns at other vehicles, prompting a pursuit that ended at the gas station. But Baretto’s attorney said his client never waved a gun, and deputies tackled him, knocking his bike over and spilling gas on the ground, which was then ignited by the Taser.
The lawyer said he wants the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to open an independent probe.
Authorities said three deputies were hurt in the fire – two with minor injuries, and one who suffered third-degree burns who also remains hospitalized.