On October 30th, 2021, an intimidating man in both size and demeanor named Jason Jones entered the Catskill Police Precinct, and became highly aggressive and combative with police. At one point, the man gets ahold of a large, ethyl-alcohol-based hand sanitizer and proceeds to pump the liquid all over himself. The drunk and angry man continues to be combative as officers struggle to determine how to handle the situation. Ultimately, an officer is forced to fire his taser gun.
What happens next is all too obvious to anyone who recognizes that the alcohol in the sanitizer may not evaporate or dry up as quickly as would be expected. The man catches fire. The police panic and leave the room. One officer comes out from the hallway and watches Jones try to smother out the fire with his own hands, his skin visibly red. The fire eventually burns out when the police return, attempting to give some kind of assistance. Still, the man remains combative until someone appears he seems to recognize. Jones drops to his knees and wraps his arms around their waist.
Everything happens very quickly. Of course, Jones is taken to the hospital to be treated for the burns and injuries, but not for at least fifteen more minutes.
On December 15th, 2021, Jason Jones passes away while at Syracuse hospital. So far, the cause of death is not official, but the family’s attorney believes that Jones inhaled the flames and destroyed his lungs.
Here is the video showing a portion of what happened. It was released to the public by the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, upon her decision to investigate what actually caused Jones’ death and whether or not the officers will be held accountable.
Panic and chaos as Tasered New York man bursts into flames in shocking new video | https://t.co/iIMLUyUgOa
— Tillie Toro (@tillie_toro) January 11, 2022
The video, which runs about 2 seconds shy of 21 minutes, is a little graphic, but the man remains standing almost the entire video. When medical help does arrive, thanks to a lack of audio in the video, it’s unclear what they discussed. Of course, assumptions have been made and it’s easy to tell that they may be continuing to try and get Jones under control and/or to accept medical help.
What was your first thought when the cops left the scene? Were they seeking a fire extinguisher? Why didn’t anyone tell the man to stop, drop, and roll? Would getting the flames under control any faster have prevented Jones from inhaling the flames?
Many arm-chair lawyers or keyboard warriors have indicated that the police were in the wrong when they chose to use their tasers on Jones and that there are other methods that should have been utilized. While it’s easy to agree, it’s harder to determine what should have happened instead. What are those methods? The man was believed to be a danger to himself and others, was heavily intoxicated, and much larger than the police.
Obviously shooting him wasn’t going to be the answer, so what else could the police have done? Used their nightsticks? No, that also would have gotten them in trouble for excessive force. Pepper spray or mace? Believe it or not, that stuff doesn’t always help, especially when someone is intoxicated. Not to mention, using it in an unventilated area could have posed a risk to themselves as well. How about a firm grip or an attempt at a take down? Well, then they’d be sued if he busted his head on the way down or if they, again, applied extreme force.
Is it a lack of training or, perhaps, tunnel vision that caused this deadly mistake?
The taser may not have been the right tool for the job on the night of October 30th, 2021, but what was the right call? What do the experts believe should have happened with Jason Jones that night? Unfortunately, as is usually the case, everyone has an opinion on what was wrong that night in October, but no answers or resolutions. Maybe being a cop in these situations isn’t as easy as we’d all like to think.