Fluke Incident or Design Flaw?: Taser Causes a Fire on Suspect’s Clothing

While I was in training for the time I spent as a Williamson County Deputy Sheriff, I was exposed to the Taser training.  I won’t bore any reader with the details of what the Taser is, as I think that is fairly common knowledge, however one story I read on the news today really surprised me, because a guy’s jacket caught fire from the spark of the taser, and according to the training, that is NOT supposed to happen.  I often wondered how it could not ignite, given that a combustible fluid like alcohol + a spark of electricity generally equals "fire"….

It looks like this incident, while remote, may cause Taser International and others who manufacture these things to rethink their claims….

It’s remarkable that this does not happen more frequently.  In this case, a guy evading cops on a motorcycle had gasoline on him from the collision when he hit the side of a patrol car, and when he was tased by the officers his jacket ignited.

I’m not here to get into the pros and cons of using a taser, as I think it is definitely a good alternative to an officer causing deep contusions and possible broken bones to a suspect with a baton, collapsible or otherwise, and I certainly think it is better than shooting.  Having been tased in my training, I can truthfully say that it is not the worst thing in the world, and that compared to the other options, I’d gladly do it again.  And, I’m not one who enjoys excessive pain.

Anyway, the details of this story are available here for anyone who would like to read it and for anyone wanting to see the comments made by some others, presumably officers, but possibly just uneducated rednecks…let’s not forget that in America, we are all innocent until proven guilty, so reading things like the quotation below are quite disturbing to me:

Taser should add a gasoline spray option to its new models.
Add copy could read-
If they are worth tasering, they are worth burning.

or how about-
I fought the law and now I’m burned.

Good job officers, next time let him smolder a little before you put out the fire and he might not run in the future.

In the end, the suspect was captured, no one was seriously injured.  But really, Taser should not advertise in its training that these things cannot cause fires… afterall, even the officers were surprised, according to the article.