(CNN) -- A man, who doused himself with gasoline and charged at an officer, burst into flames when he was hit with a Taser, police in Australia said Tuesday.
"He was carrying a lighter and pouring himself with petrol," said Inspector Bill Munnee with the West Australian Police. "We don't know if the lighter set it off or something from the Taser."
Authorities have launched an inquiry into what happened Monday when an officer arrived at the 36-year-old man's house in the remote desert community of Warburton.
Police had received a report that the man and some others were sniffing glue, Munnee said.
At the sight of the arriving officers, the man ran out of the house with a container of gasoline and a cigarette lighter, police said.
When he ignored the officer's command to stop, the officer fired his Taser stun gun -- and the man "caught alight," Munnee said.
When used, some stun guns emit an electric spark as they deliver an electric current. The jolt of electricity inhibits voluntary control of muscles, temporarily incapacitating the person.
While the officer tried to put out the fire, a woman from inside the house threw rocks at him, Munnee said. The officer suffered both burns from the fire and cuts from the rocks.
The man was airlifted to a hospital in the Western Australian capital of Perth, where he is undergoing treatment for severe burns.
Police charged him with assault with intent to prevent arrest and possession of a deleterious substance.
The rock-throwing woman was charged with assaulting a public officer.
"He has an extensive record of very violent behavior toward police and people," Munnee said of the man. "He's not Mother Teresa or the Pope."
Two years ago, a man in Texas died in a similar incident when he too caught fire after he was shot with a Taser.
In that case as well, the man had poured gasoline on himself and was resisting arrest.
What a crazy case.
What are the cops to do? I wonder how many cases there are of someone who is covered in gas or anything similar NOT catching fire while being hit with a Taser.
Even if there is a known risk of catching the guy on fire, should the cops still tase him? He has to be subdued somehow if he is charging the cops, so is it either fire the Taser and risk fire, or pull out the gun and shoot him?
What a crazy situation for the cops to be in, I know its not their fault at all, but this feels like a no-win situation for them no matter what they might do.
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Thread: Taser catches man on fire
07-21-2009, 10:22 AM #1
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Taser catches man on fire"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin
07-21-2009, 10:25 AM #2
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I meant to post this in the off-duty forum..."They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin
07-21-2009, 10:58 AM #3
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- Canuck Expat May be anywhere
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07-21-2009, 11:02 AM #4
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- Jan 2006
Maybe it is just the evolution of "Suicide by Cop".
Used to people would charge the cops, knowing that they would be shot and killed. Less likelihood of that now with all the tasers. Maybe this is the next step..."They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin
07-21-2009, 12:18 PM #5
Just like they'll never know if the guy has a pacemaker or something, they'll never know if he has doused himself in flamable chemicals either. My personal opinion is that if you have a condition where a taser could kill you, you shouldn't be doing things that might provoke the police to shoot you with one.
If you pour gas all over yourself and then go running at the police with a gas can and a lighter, you deserve whatever you get in the process. Whether it is a taser or a couple well placed rounds in the chest. Boo hoo. You should have thought about that before charging at armed police officers. Family members should also be federally prohibited from suing for situations like this. In fact, the police should be allowed to sue them for the cost of materials and other expenses.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
07-21-2009, 12:22 PM #6
In the case of people dousing themselves with gasoline and "charging" they should know better than to use their Taser. What a bunch of idiots.
That's what firearms are for."...When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you." Isaiah 43:2
07-26-2009, 11:33 PM #7
Hmmm.....something doesn't sound right here.
There are no "sparks" from a taser if they shot him with it, meaning the barbs come flying out at you. There is if they make a contact hit meaning they would have to take the cartridge with the wires off and have to physically touch the guy with the taser. With the cartridge off, there is a spark, or lightning bolt that goes back and forth between the two contacts on the front end of the taser. Even if that method was used I'm not so sure about it igniting him.
However, when you are being tased..you have no control over your muscles and he would not be able to voluntarily strike the lighter. It could have been lit by a muscle contraction due to being tased that struck the lighter....there is more to this story somewhere.Jason Knecht
Altoona Fire Dept.
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07-26-2009, 11:49 PM #8
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- Southeast PA
In suburban Philly, I heard of a recent incident where a guy was running from the police on a motorcycle. He wrecked, and when he went down the motorcyle fuel tank ruptured. He got up and charged the police. They tazered him, he lit off. I wasn't there, but I know the guy was Flown to a Burn Center, so it sounds like its possible.
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