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Osceola County sheriff recommends misdemeanor charge against deputy blamed for setting man on fire

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office says Jean Barreto was severely burned when a deputy discharged a Taser at Wawa gas pump with gas on the ground and started a fire. Photo: Nejame Law

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez is recommending a misdemeanor charge against one of his deputies after a dirt bike rider was set on fire at a Wawa in Orange County.

Lopez says his office has filed a probable cause affidavit with the State Attorney’s Office for culpable negligence against Deputy David Crawford.

In a prepared statement, State Attorney Monique Worrell’s office said: “Upon receipt of the information from the Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office will review the case, conduct any supplemental investigation needed, and file the appropriate charges.”

At a press conference Thursday, Lopez showed video from Feb. 27 of the dirt biker rider driving “recklessly” and being followed by a helicopter for about 30 minutes.

Lopez said deputies tackled the 26-year-old man, Jean Barreto, at a gas pump, and gasoline spilled from the bike.

He says Crawford yelled, “Kill the pump. Kill the pump. There’s gas.” Lopez says another deputy threw his Taser aside and Crawford then used it.

“Deputy Crawford picks up Deputy Koffinas’ Taser and says, ‘You’re about to get Tased again, dude.’ Immediately after this comment, the fire ignites.

A fire marshal’s report said discharging the Taser caused the fire, which engulfed Barreto, and also injured Crawford and another deputy.

Barreto survived with severe burns over 75 percent of his body. Lopez is recommending several charges against him, including felony fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.