Taser used by officers blamed for setting man ablaze—and not for the first time, either

Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Recently surfaced video shows the driver of an automobile burning alive inside his car after a Border Patrol officer used a Taser on the man and set the vehicle on fire. Strangely, the incident isn’t the only one of its kind in recent memory.

The footage, which
became public last month as the result of a lawsuit filed by the
family of the victim, shows a blue Ford Focus and its lone
occupant, 25-year-old Alex Martin, going up in flames after an
officer from the United States Border Patrol agency discharged
his stun gun and accidentally ignited gas fumes inside the

Martin’s family sued the US Border Patrol following the 2012
altercation, and their attorney says a newly-surfaced dash-cam
recording shows law enforcement’s unwillingness to assist as the
man burned alive.

“For some reason, even though each of those cars had a fire
extinguisher readily within reach, none of them used their fire
extinguishers – or tried to used their fire extinguishers, or
tried to help Alex – who was burning to death inside this
Gene Iredale, the attorney for Martin’s family, told
the Guardian recently. “You’ll see in this video they just
walk away, and consult with each other.”

Yet while the incident is quite unusual, Tasers have been linked
to similar events.

When successfully deployed, a Taser can discharge upwards of
50,000 volts. A manufacturer warning cautions against use near
flammable substances, but the stun gun is often used
spontaneously by police in lieu of resorting to firearms.
Nevertheless, the results are sometimes tragic.

In January 2009, for example, a California man burst into flames
after an officer with the Modesto Police Department fired a Taser
at him and struck his gasoline-soaked jacket.

“They pushed the man to the ground and ripped off his
Sergeant Craig Plante explained to the Modesto Bee at the time. “They stomped on the
jacket and put out the fire. They were now in lifesaving

Five months later, a similar event unfolded down under when an
Australian man was struck with a Taser stun gun and promptly set

“He was carrying a lighter and pouring himself [sic] with
Inspector Bill Munnee of the West Australian Police
told CNN. “We don’t know if the lighter set it
off or something from the Taser.”

The same summer, a 31-year-old Ohio man’s chest reportedly
ignited when he was hit with a Taser after allegedly inhaling
toxic chemicals from an aerosol container, the Associated Press

Most recently, a Virginia man received 85-percent burns after he
was blasted by a Taser during an alcohol-related arrest.
According to local network WWBT-TV, gasoline was again a suspected

“There was already fire and rescue there within seconds. They
were telling dispatch that he was extinguished and he was being
put into an ambulance to be transported,”
explained an

Such wasn’t the case during the 2012 incident that tragically led
to the death of Martin, according to his family, and horrific
footage from the ordeal is now raising further questions about
the use of the controversial stun guns in the wake of his death.

Leave a comment