Attorneys for a Florida man say he is still fighting for his life after being "cooked alive" in February when a sheriff's deputy allegedly deployed a taser while the man was covered in gas while fueling his motorbike. Jean Barreto, 26, has third-degree burns over 75% of his body, his lawyers said Wednesday.
CBS Miami reports that surveillance video from the February 27 incident shows flames erupting near one of the pumps as deputies tried to take Beretta into custody at the Wawa station.
The sheriff's office said deputies tried to arrest Beretta because he was part of a group of bikers who were pointing guns at people in the county. During a traffic stop, they said Beretta fled but deputies caught up with him at the Wawa.
A witness at the gas station said he heard a taser being deployed, but Osceola Sheriff Marcos Lopez has not confirmed that one was used, CBS Miami reported. However, a Fire Marshal's Office report concluded, that "the most probable cause of the fire was an electric discharge from the deputies deploying a department-issued Taser device."
Beretta's attorney Mark Nejame says his client was "bum-rushed from behind" by the sheriff's deputy, and his dirt bike fell over, spilling gas on Barreto and the deputy. His lawyers say at three more deputies arrived and one of them "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."
"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 said.
Barreto, who spent 10 weeks in the hospital, is still undergoing "excruciating" treatment and was expected to be placed in a medically induced coma this week to undergo debridement, his lawyer said.
Nejame called for more transparency and accountability from the sheriff's office and said he would request that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement take over the investigation.
First published on May 19, 2022 / 10:28 AM
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