Florida man ‘cooked’ after deputy’s Taser sparks gasoline explosion

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida deputy faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly igniting a fireball at a gas station that left a suspect with serious burns, WESH reports.

The suspect, Jean Barreto, was thought to be part of a group of dirt bike riders seen pointing guns at people while driving recklessly through traffic in Osceola County on Feb. 27, according to the county’s Sheriff Marcos Lopez.

“In Osceola County, we have no tolerance for this type of behavior,” Lopez told reporters Thursday. “We will identify you and catch you, even if you flee into another county.”

Although Orange County officials say they did not seek permission to pursue the group in their jurisdiction, the deputies followed them into the neighboring county.

A video from a sheriff’s office helicopter shows a man believed to be Barreto popping wheelies, running red lights and driving the wrong way down a road before stopping at a Wawa gas station.

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When deputies approached him, a struggle ensued.

Man stranded on side of road kills firefighter who stopped to help, police say
A video shows Deputy David Crawford tackle Barreto from behind as he pumped gas, knocking over the bike and spilling fuel.

Lopez said Crawford picked up a Taser that was discarded by another officer and deployed it near the flammable gasoline.

Then an explosion occurred, and Barreto and the deputy were engulfed in flames.

“While being cooked alive, Mr. Barreto sustained third degree burns on approximately 75% of his body, front and back from his feet to the bottom of his neck,” Barreto’s attorney Mark NeJame said … READ MORE. 

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Another horrific tragedy by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office failed policies, procedures, protocols, and practices.

After joining dozens of other motorbike enthusiasts, Jean Barreto, 26 years old Hispanic male, disbanded with the rest of the enthusiasts and headed home after Osceola County deputies broke up the gathering. Mr. Barreto has no prior criminal record and is a valued Fedex employee.

While driving home, Mr. Barreto first went to Wawa, less than a mile from his home, to fill his dirtbike up with gas. Our investigation confirms that after filling his tank but before the gas cap was put back on, he was attacked by being body slammed with a flying tackle from behind by an Osceola County sheriff’s deputy, even though he was now in Orange County’s jurisdiction and had been for at least 5 miles.

After he was pumping gas for over a minute and a half, Mr. Barreto was unknowingly bum-rushed from behind with the flying tackle by an Osceola county sheriff’s deputy, who had been secretly trailing him at the gas station.

As Mr. Barreto was knocked over from behind, by this surprise take down from a then unknown force, his dirt bike also went down, spilling gas over Mr. Barreto and the Deputy. At least three other Osceola County deputy vehicles then appeared, in an apparently strategized effort, all of them being out of their jurisdiction, having left Osceola County and entered into Orange County.

Seeing the deputy and Mr. Barreto on the ground as a result of the deputy’s flying tackle, one of the deputies who appeared in one of the three vehicles, proceeded to employ the use of a taser on Mr. Barreto, engulfing almost his entire body in flames and approximately half of the other deputy’s as well.

This fireball, caused by the reckless, foolish, unnecessary and deadly tasing leading to the horrific explosion, engulfing the two of them and injuring 2 other deputies with minor burns.

After 10 weeks in the hospital, Mr. Barreto is still undergoing potentially life saving but excruciating painful treatment. He is without skin on most of his body, his skin having been burned off. He undergoes procedures that require his dead skin to be routinely peeled off of his body. He is wrapped and unwrapped in gauze daily, bleeding profusely still as he doesn’t have the requisite amount of skin to contain his body fluids.

Mr. Barreto will again be placed in a medically induced coma over the next couple of days, as he undergoes debridement (removal of necrotic tissue) ahead of first of its kind treatment at Orlando Health, which has been growing skin tissue taken from a 4 inch patch of unburned skin, to hopefully commence grafting.

While being cooked alive, Mr. Barreto sustained third degree burns on approximately 75% of his body, front and back from his feet to the bottom of his neck.

NeJame Law was retained within days of this horrific tragedy which occurred on February 27th. Comment has been withheld by Mark NeJame and Albert Yonfa of NeJame Law, as the State Fire Marshal report was only released Thursday of last week which confirmed that the taser was the cause of the inferno.

Despite its claim of transparency, Osceola County Sheriff Lopez and his department, despite requests from NeJame Law which commenced on March 15th, has failed to turn over critical and essential evidence which includes but is not limited to body cam footage and deputies’ reports. This “transparent” department has also failed to disclose such information to the media.

This is especially alarming since the Osceola County Sheriffs Office is conducting its own internal investigation rather than turning this horrific matter over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which it should have.

Moreover, in the Target shooting case, Sheriff Lopez has maintained he could not discuss that case or provide all documentation because FDLE was handling that investigation. Conversely, over two months have passed, and Sheriff Lopez and his department have failed to live up to their “promise” of full transparency by refusing to provide the media, the public, or Mr. Barreto and his counsel the body cams, the reports, and other critical evidence.

Sheriff Lopez has made it abundantly clear repeatedly that his policies are “The way we do things in Osceola County” and that Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for these groups of motorbike enthusiasts, even going so far as to issue and publish, apparently at taxpayers’ expense, a COPS wanna-be video highlighting him and his zero-tolerance policy.

This is all the more compounded by the fact that his deputies were out of their jurisdiction of Osceola County by entering Orange County, even after an alleged pursuit had ended, which the Statewide Fire Marshall’s Report further corroborated.

Several deputy units, irresponsible actions being followed by an irresponsible policy, no arrest of Mr. Barreto for any crime, a zero-tolerance policy for dirt bikes (Mr. Barreto’s dirt bike was valued at about $900), military tactics being employed for traffic violations and possible misdemeanors, no gun or weapon being in the possession of or control of Mr. Barreto, and the failure to include a call for help to Mr. Barreto has he laid on the ground with his body sizzling but only making a call for the deputies injured, are but some of the questions that NeJame Law are addressing at the Press Conference and which remain unanswered by Sheriff Lopez.

Abundant questions remain, including why does the Sheriff continue to establish and institute policies and practices that endanger both the public and his deputies, and continues to expose the county and his deputies individually to massive personal financial liability?

Mark NeJame and Albert Yonfa will be formally requesting that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement take over the investigation of this case and it be removed from the purview and control of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and additionally request the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and commence an investigation into the protocols, practices, policies, and procedures of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Again, another young male of color has been subjected to gruesome and shocking treatment at the hands of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and an independent investigation has now become necessary to ensure that equitable justice is achieved for all involved.

Extremely graphic and horrifying video and pictures will be provided at the Press Conference for those media outlets to review at their discretion.

The Press Conference will be held tomorrow Wednesday, May 18th at 1:30 pm at the NeJame Law offices.
189 South Orange Avenue
Suite 1800
Orlando, Florida 32801
Mark NeJame can be reached at [email protected]
Albert Yonfa can be reached at [email protected]
[email protected]
Office number is 407 500 0000

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