He Poured Hand Sanitizer on Himself. Then a Cop Tased Him

NY AG investigating incident in Catskill, NY, after Jason Jones burst into flames; he died last month
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2022 9:00 AM CST
Video Shows Man on Fire After Being Tased by Cop
Catskill police officers are seen in footage of their encounter with Jason Jones.   (Catskill Police Department, via New York Times)

Graphic video made public Friday shows a man who doused himself in hand sanitizer bursting into flames when a police officer used a stun gun on him at a New York police station in October. Security footage released by the state attorney general's office shows Jason Jones, 29, rolling on the floor in the Catskill police station lobby and rubbing his head to stop the flames, per the AP. Jones, who was taken off life support in December after six weeks in intensive care, was on fire for about 25 seconds and appeared to have burns on his upper back.

The attorney general's office released the security footage as part of its investigation into Jones' death. Prior to being hit with the stun gun, the shirtless Jones is seen in a tantrum, ripping his hoodie and undershirt off, throwing a shoe at a table, and knocking over a jug of hand sanitizer as three officers look on. A few minutes later, Jones picks up the jug of hand sanitizer and squirts the liquid on his back and head. An officer then takes out a stun gun and shoots Jones with it; there's a flash of light in the video as Jones bursts into flames. Police Chief Dave Darling said officers in Catskill, about 33 miles south of Albany, were familiar with Jones from previous encounters and were likely afraid he was going to hurt himself.

Brian Higgins, who teaches criminal justice at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice and offers training in the use of stun guns, tells the New York Times that police officers should know to assess whether there are any alcohol-based liquids nearby before firing stun guns. "[Jones] was an unarmed individual in a closed room with three officers," Higgins says. "They had several options at their disposal." Jones had been a standout track and basketball athlete at Catskill High School more than a decade ago, the Times Union reports.

(More police officer stories.)

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