The state attorney general of New York released a video on Friday showing a man bursting into flames after being tased by police inside an upstate police station in October, an incident that resulted in his death.
The horrific security video shows officers of the Catskill Police Department fleeing, leaving the man to fight the flames that had engulfed his chest area and head.
After six weeks in a medically-induced coma, Jason Jones, 29, died on Dec. 15 in a Syracuse hospital.
His death is being investigated by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
For nearly 10 minutes after speaking with numerous officers on Oct. 30, Jones can be seen walking around the lobby of a police station 30 miles south of Albany.
According to the footage, he becomes obviously irritated and removes his short-sleeved sweater and t-shirt from his huge body before removing his shoes and socks.
It wasn’t until about 10 minutes later that Jones was seen dousing his bare body and hair in hand-sanitizer that was lying on the table.
Within a few seconds, three police officers move toward him. One of them pulls out his Taser and discharges it at Jones, who is out of view of the camera.
Jones then bursts into flames and returns to the frame of the camera as he rolls on the floor, his chest, back, and head completely engulfed in flames.
The three officers dashed away, two into another room and one around the corner of the lobby, leaving Jones alone to extinguish the fire by rolling on the ground and patting his head with his hands for about 10 seconds, according to the footage.
After firing the stun gun at Jones, the officer returned to the room and appeared to try to put Jones’ hands behind his back while he lay on the floor, badly burned and crying in agony. Unhandcuffed Jones was hugged by a citizen who appeared in the video but whose identity was hidden.
According to the video, it would take another 15 minutes before a medic arrived and carried Jones away for treatment.
According to The Albany Times-Union, he died after being on a ventilator for 47 days because his lungs were so badly damaged that he couldn’t absorb oxygen.
Jones, a former top high school athlete in Catskill, was said to have been in a nearby pub when police reacted to a disturbance, according to the newspaper. According to reports, he walked to the station and confronted officers there.
According to the article, police originally treated Jones as an emotionally unstable individual before approaching him and Tasing him in an apparent attempt to arrest him.
Jones’ family lawyer Kevin Luibrand said that “Jason was unarmed, in the police station, and not threatening anyone when the police hit him with 50,000 volts of electrical current and he ignited.”
“Instead of helping Jason, the police ran out the room, shut the door and let him burn.”
According to a law enforcement specialist who trains officers on the use of force, officers are never instructed to use a Taser on someone who has been exposed to combustible chemicals. Afterwards, he told the newspaper, the police should have rushed to Jones’ assistance.
“Once the threat has been stopped, you don’t just say, ‘I’m going to let that person burn,’” the unnamed source said.
A 2015 executive order charged James’ office with investigating deadly police incidents with unarmed citizens.
“The release of this footage is not an expression of any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of any party in a criminal matter or any opinion as to how or whether any individual may be charged with a crime,” James said in a statement.
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