The Florida deputy who “cooked” a motorcyclist alive is being charged a year after the incident
A motorcyclist wants taxpayers to pay $7 million in medical bills after he was set on fire and nearly died at the hands of a Florida deputy’s taser.
Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy David Crawford was formally charged by prosecutors Thursday with culpable negligence more than a year after he tasered Jean Barretto Baerga while pumping gas.
Barretto Baerga, 26, had been pursued by deputies after fleeing police, who had responded to a report of a group of reckless motorcyclists.
The fire, which was caused by Crawford’s stun gun, severely burned Barretto Baerga on nearly three-quarters of his body.
Crawford was also badly burned in the fire and is still on furlough more than a year after the February 2022 incident.
“They’re going to cost Osceola County taxpayers millions,” said Barretto Baerga’s attorney Mark NeJame. ‘There must be consequences, because otherwise how can we prevent this kind of activity from happening again?’
Jean Barretto Baergo was hospitalized last February after the stabbing incident that sparked a fire that left 75 percent of his body burned
Deputy David Crawford has been formally charged with culpable negligence more than a full year after tasing Barretto Baergo
NeJame said his client had burns all over except his face from wearing a mask, his hands from wearing gloves, and his feet from his shoes. Fox 35.
The second- and third-degree burns caused $7 million in medical costs.
“He barely survived,” said NeJame Orlando Sentinel. “His life will always be in danger because of the enormous amount of scar tissue and damage that has befallen his body. … He’s doing his best to get through his life with these cards he’s been dealt.”
Body camera footage from the 2022 incident showed Crawford tackling Barretto Baerga at the gas pump without announcing himself first.
A second deputy, Christopher Koffinas, used his stun gun on the victim, after which Crawford yelled at backup officers to turn off the gas pump.
Seconds later, as Barretto Baerga lay in a puddle of gasoline, Crawford aimed his taser and said, “You’re going to get tased again, dude,” then fired.
The fire caught immediately and flames engulfed the motorcyclist.
Koffinas was given an unpaid 40-hour suspension for first firing his stun gun, but is not facing criminal charges.
NeJame, an attorney for Barretto Baerga’s, praised the prosecution’s indictment decision. He praised the firm’s “ongoing professionalism and commitment to this matter.”
The charges were first announced by Sheriff Marcos López, but prosecutors have now formally charged the deputy sheriff.
Crawford was given leave after the incident and has not been fired even a year later.
“We believe it is appropriate for the criminal justice system to determine whether Deputy Crawford committed a criminal offense that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” sheriff officials said after the formal indictment.
Crawford on fire after the tase. Horrifying bodycam footage shows him rolling on the floor screaming as he tries to put out the fire on his legs.
The charges against Crawford are consistent with those announced last year by Sheriff Marcos López (pictured). In the aftermath of the fire, López said at a town hall that he was not considering changing the tactics his force is using for similar future arrests.
In the aftermath of the fire, López said at a town hall that he was not considering changing the tactics his force is using for similar future arrests.
When the charges against Crawford were announced last May, López said deputies believed Barretto Baerga fit the description of a man on a dirt bike who allegedly pointed a gun at a driver.
No gun was found on Barretto Baerga, though López claimed the victim may have “thrown” the gun.
NeJame called on both the United States Department of Justice and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Sheriff’s Office — neither of them took the case.
NeJame attacked the Sheriff’s Office protocols, saying, “If he (his client) was driving recklessly, charge him with reckless driving, but you almost don’t kill someone and set them on fire.”
“You can’t let the police run wild. They should be our protectors, not our detonators.’