Catskill, NY – New York Attorney General Letitia James released surveillance video on Friday that showed what happened when Catskill police Tased a suspect who had just doused himself in hand sanitizer (video below).
The incident occurred on Oct. 30, 2021 after 29-year-old Jason Jones stormed into the lobby of the Catskill Police Department and began arguing with officers, FOX News reported.
James released a series of videos on Jan. 7 that showed Jones pacing around the lobby of the police station and eventually confronting officers in an aggressive manner.
He appeared to be yelling through the reception window at somebody as two officers stood about 10 feet behind him watching.
The videos, which have no audio, showed Jones repeatedly tried to open a locked door into the back of the police station and appeared to be shouting.
After Jones was unable to breach the locked door, he unloaded the pockets of his pants onto a table and began to strip off his clothing, the video showed.
He took off his shirt and was in the process of removing his pants when a third officer entered the lobby.
Jones appeared to be talking to the officers as he sat down and removed his boots and then got back up and resumed pacing, barefoot, as he argued with officers.
The video showed that the officers remained calm as Jones, who stumbled around as if under the influence of a substance in the video, ranted and continued to pace.
None of the officers moved to intervene when Jones lit a cigarette and briefly smoked.
Then the big man became angry and threw one of the tables he’d placed the contents of his pockets on and the officers stood watching as he tried to pick everything up.
Finally, Jones grabbed a large jug of hand sanitizer off a table and began to spray it all over himself, the video showed.
The officers moved in to try to take Jones into custody and he stepped toward them in an aggressive manner before he backed out of the frame.
The video showed that one of the officers drew his Taser and pointed it at Jones and deployed it.
All three officers stepped closer to Jones – who was outside the view of the camera – and then stepped quickly away as a bright pink glow erupted from the suspect.
Then the video showed the officers dashing away as Jones re-entered the frame with his head in engulfed in pink flames.
Jones dropped to the ground and tried to beat out the flames on his head and chest, the video showed.
Two of the officers dashed behind the locked door and a third stood back and watched from around a corner as Jones repeatedly rubbed his hands over his head and tried to put out the fire in his hair.
After about 10 seconds, one of the officers returned from behind the locked door and attempted to help Jones extinguish his head, the video showed.
Once the fire was out, the video showed Jones remained aggressive with the officer and fought his assistance.
The officer at first appeared to be trying to handcuff Jones, but then released him as the burned man remained on his knees and continued to gesture wildly at the officers.
Then someone else entered the lobby and Jones went to them on his knees and wrapped his arms around them in a hug.
The person hugged Jones back and appeared to be comforting him as the video ended.
Jones was transported to the hospital and then spent six weeks in the burn unit at State University of New York Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse before he died on Dec. 15, 2021, WRGB reported.
The attorney general’s office launched the investigation into the incident after Jones died.
State law automatically triggers an investigation by the attorney general’s Officer of Special Investigations (OSI) when there is an officer-involved death, FOX News reported.
“The Taser is 50,000 volts of electricity,” Kevin Luibrand, an attorney for Jones’ family, told WTEN. “It’s well known, police are trained, not to use it in that circumstance. Jason predictably ignited as a result of that.”
“Every single day police come into contact with people having some form of mental health episode, whether it’s on the streets or at home, and there’s ways to handle it,” Luibrand continued.
“That’s not the way to handle it,” he added.
The attorney said the family is most distressed that officers ran away from the blazing man rather than jumping in to help him, WTEN reported.
“Jason was unarmed. The police, rather than help him, ran out of the room, shut the door behind them, and let Jason burn,” Luibrand complained.
But police training expert John Cooney, a former police officer, said officers are not trained to run towards fire, WTEN reported.
“To immediately respond to jump on top of, to help roll over the individual, that’s a very individual decision and it’s not necessarily predicated by police procedure. The officers left what they thought was a very hazardous situation. They did respond at some point. They reassessed and then responded,” Cooney explained.
He said that while officers are trained not to tase someone covered in a flammable liquid, the training refers to gas, WTEN reported.
“I think it’s fair to say in most Taser trainings, we don’t talk about sanitizer as that obvious flammable liquid,” Cooney said.
Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione said his office had been waiting to interview Jones but that since he had died, the attorney general’s office had taken over the case, WTEN reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content:
(GRAPHIC VIDEO) A man is asked by police to leave a bar for being drunk and rowdy. The man engages police in the lobby and is tased after going shirtless and pouring hand sanitizer on his head. He died weeks later. The case is being looked into (CNN). pic.twitter.com/p0rUkXUlka
— WDBJ7 (@WDBJ7) January 9, 2022