No, the idea didn’t work at all as planned, unless the plan was to set a suicidal guy on fire, then it worked spectacularly well.
DEVON, England — A police officer testified that he fired a Taser at a man doused in gasoline and holding a lit match to stop the man from harming himself, the Guardian reports.
In April 2013, Kelvin Pimott called 911 after witnessing his 32-year-old son, Andrew, standing in their garden holding a gasoline can. Kelvin was concerned his son was going to set fire to the family’s home, because he was in defiance of a court order which banned him from the property.
When police arrived, officer Peter Hodgkinson says he was “on guard” as he headed into the garden, because police dispatch had informed him that Andrew had previously assaulted an officer.
Hodgkinson says Andrew poured the can of gasoline on himself as he stepped around the corner.
Although an attorney representing the family insists Officer Hodgkinson fired the Taser “almost instantaneously” when he saw the lit match, Hodgkinson says that wasn’t the case.
The officer says he looked around to grab his Taser and when he looked up he saw a flame. He says he tried to engage Andrew before he fired the Taser and shouted, “put it down, Taser trained officer.”
However, after carrying out a series of experiments to establish if Andrew caught fire due to the Taser or the lit match, forensic scientist Stephen Andrews testified he believed it was likely that Andrew was ignited by the Taser. “Overall my opinion is that my findings provide very strong evidence to support the view that Andrew Pimlott was set on fire by the Taser,” he said.
PC David Beer, who was with Hodgkinson, told an inquest that his immediate reaction to seeing Pimlott covered in petrol and holding a lit match was: “Fucking hell he’s going to go up.”
Beer said Hodgkinson had no option but to shoot Pimlott with the 50,000-volt Taser because of the risk he was posing to himself and others. “I was aware PC Hodgkinson had taken his Taser out and [was] shouting at the male,” he said. “I can’t recall what he was shouting but he may have said: ‘Put it down.’ I concentrated back on the male, I heard the Taser sound being activated and Mr Pimlott went up in flames.
“I froze for a minute and Mr Pimlott screams and starts coming towards us and I think to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something’.”
Beer said he shouted at Pimlott to get on the floor and wrapped a duvet around him to put out the flames. “Neighbours were providing water and we started pouring it over him and a hose was also supplied.”
The inquest continues.