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The Columbus Dispatch : Police get a shock when new Taser briefly ignites suspect



Police get a shock when new Taser briefly ignites suspect
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:02 AM
By Holly Zachariah
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Daniel Wood
Daniel Wood
It didn't take Lancaster police long to discover a potential danger with their newly issued stun guns: They can set their targets on fire.

One day after officers received Tasers this week, two of them were patting out the flames on Daniel Wood, a 31-year-old homeless man who reportedly had been inhaling a chemical from a spray can to get high. Wood was not seriously injured but was taken to a hospital as a precaution, said Lancaster Police Chief David Bailey.

"Clearly, this is not the way we'd hoped to get started," Bailey said. "But I'm glad the suspect is OK, and this gives us an opportunity to review how we will do things from this point."

The makers of stun guns warn that such fires are extremely rare but a risk nonetheless, and Lancaster's written policy for the department's seven new Tasers says that the devices shouldn't be used when flammable materials are evident.

Bailey said his officers acted appropriately given the situation and Wood's combative behavior.

"There was no recognition on the part of these officers that this would be the result," Bailey said. "They didn't know the vapor was present and would flash. ... It wasn't as if the suspect was doused in a chemical."

CNN reported last month that a man in Australia who had been huffing a chemical poured gasoline on himself as he charged police. An officer used a stun gun, and that man burst into flames and was seriously injured.

And a man died in Texas in 2007 after police hit him with pepper spray and then jolted him with a stun gun, according to published reports.

Authorities in both cases said the men were carrying lighters in their hands, so the source of ignition couldn't be determined for certain.

In Lancaster, the officers responded just after 8 p.m. Monday to a report of a man darting into traffic and yelling threats outside the Kmart on Memorial Drive.

When the two officers arrived, Wood was holding a can of keyboard cleaner in his hand, and one of the officers saw him inhale the chemical, according to a written report.

Wood took off running and, once caught, kicked the officers and tried to bite them, the report says. That's when an officer used his stun gun, hitting Woods in the chest and an arm with the charged prongs.

"I then observed a flame ignite and I quickly shut off the Taser," wrote the officer, identified only as H.W. Lanham. "(I) approached him and patted out the flame."

Wood has a history of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and alcohol and drug charges in Fairfield County Municipal Court.

He was charged on Monday with resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and abusing harmful intoxicants and taken to the Fairfield County jail. He was released about 11:30 p.m. Monday and rearrested yesterday when he failed to show up in court.

Arizona-based Taser International has sold 430,000 devices to law-enforcement officers at 14,750 agencies. Spokesman Steve Tuttle said the warnings about possible ignition are clear but that the incident described in Lancaster "is beyond freakish."

Lancaster police officers have spent the last four months training under an instructor certified by the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy, Bailey said. Officers also had to pass a qualifying test.

Spokesmen for both the State Highway Patrol and the Columbus Division of Police, where most troopers and officers carry stun guns, said their training is extensive, and that their respective policies also warn of the risk of fire.
 

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The cops did what they had to do...no problem!

(Perhaps when the cops made the 'SomeMores', it was a little over the top.:image035:):rofl:
 

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The cops did what they had to do...no problem!

(Perhaps when the cops made the 'SomeMores', it was a little over the top.:image035:):rofl:
Well...I've heard that keyboard cleaner gives them a special zing!!
 

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Yes, it can and does happen. When Tasers became common a few years ago, we had to change OC to ensure there was nothing flammable in the can since the two often go hand in hand.
If the guy was huffing paint, I can certainly see him catching fire.
 

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BG Flambe...I'm generally okay with that.

LEOs have a new flame.
 

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The makers of stun guns warn that such fires are extremely rare but a risk nonetheless, and Lancaster's written policy for the department's seven new Tasers says that the devices shouldn't be used when flammable materials are evident.
So someone has to be naked for them to use the taser?
 

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Something tells me Mr Woods won't be homeless and penniless for long. I see a BIG lawsuit on the horizon for Lancaster and the manufacturer of the tazer.
 

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I guess after a burrito you don't want to be tased
 

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I know of people that have been caught huffing keyboard cleaner, which is Compressed Air I believe, didnt know it was flammable though....
 

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My dad had told me the story, he had read it, so I had to read it for myself, and after i did, I just felt the need to share with the fine folks here.
 

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We should also keep in mind that a Taser is LESS lethal, not non-lethal. A Taser, properly used, is a substitute for another form of force. Striking someone with a contact weapon can produce an injury, too, or even cause death.

I have a bad knee, that tends to KEEP me on the ground if I go to the ground, and nerve damage in my formerly "strong" hand. I can't fight like I used to, if strategy, tactics, and "kind" words fail. A Taser can keep me from having to kill someone. I like having one on my duty belt, though I do HATE the mandated carry position on my belt, which I believe greatly increases the likelihood of the Taser being snatched. One of my co-workers recently shot a bad guy who snatched his Taser, though I think it may have been snatched from the officer's hands, not the holster.
 
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