Suicidal Man Doused in Gasoline Set On Fire After Being Tased By Police

The man's family and police differ as to how the blaze started. He's in critical condition. 

By Benjamin H. Smith

Questions surround a fire that sent four people to the hospital and nearly burned down a house in Arlington, Texas. NBC DFW 5 reports police were called to the home after a suicidal man had doused himself with gasoline and was threatening to set himself on fire. However, according to the man’s family, the fire itself was set after overzealous officers shot the man with a taser gun, its electric charge igniting the blaze.

According to ABC affiliate WFAA, police were familiar with the man, identified as Gabriel Olivas, having been previously called to the home. There was also a warrant out of Olivas’ arrest on family violence charges. Police say they found him inside the home, having poured gasoline all over himself, and holding a lighter. At a press conference, Arlington police Sgt. Vanessa Harrison said Olivas began acting “frantically,” at which point one of the officers on the scene shot him with their taser gun in order to subdue him. Olivas then burst into flames.

Officers used blankets to put out the flames and pulled Olivas to safety through a window as the fire spread to the house itself. Three other residents were at the home during the incident but fortunately were outside when the fire broke out. Three officers were taken to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation, but are “expected to be OK,” according to police sources. Olivas family says he suffered burns over 80% of his body and is in critical condition.

Police at this time say they are not sure how the fire started, Sgt. Harrison saying, “We know that a Taser can have some other implications, but we also know that he had something ignitable in his hand.” Olivas’ family, however, dispute the police claims, his wife telling NBC DFW 5, “The officer said it, ‘If I tase him, he’s gonna light on fire,’ and that’s what they did, not even a second later.”


[Photo: NBC DFW 5]

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