A suicidal man who had doused himself in gasoline became engulfed in flames at an Arlington home Monday after an officer used a stun gun on him, police said.
The officer who used the Taser on the man believed that the man was holding a lighter in his hand and was about to use it, police spokeswoman Sgt. VaNessa Harrison said at a news conference.
Harrison acknowledged the risk of using an electrical stun gun near gasoline, but said the man was “very frantic and erratic and became a danger to everyone in the room.”
“We realize that a Taser can have some other implications, but we also know he had something in his hand,” Harrison said. “It’s unclear at this moment whether he became engulfed in flames from the gasoline and ignitable object he had in his hand or from the Taser.”
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The man was taken to a hospital. His condition was unknown.
Three police officers were also taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Harrison said.
Police were called to the home in the 1600 block of Carla Avenue about noon, where two women reported that a mentally ill man was attempting suicide.
The man had doused himself in gasoline and was threatening to harm himself, Harrison said. Officers arrived, got the women out of the home and began talking to the man.
While officers tried to calm the man, Harrison said, he poured more gasoline on himself and was believed to be holding a lighter in one hand.
An officer used a Taser on the man “to subdue him,” Harrison said, but the man became engulfed in flames. Officers wrapped the man in a blanket to put out the fire and got the man outside the home.
Police were still investigating the incident Monday afternoon.