The Arlington Police Department has released a statement from a police officer who deployed his stun gun in the July 10, 2017 incident that resulted in a man catching on fire, in response to an open records request from NBC 5.
In his written statement, Sgt. Ebony Jefferson recounts the chaotic call to the home of Gabriel Olivas, where Olivas had doused himself in gasoline and was threatening suicide.
Jefferson wrote that he pulled his stun gun as a "less lethal" option for handling the situation. He said Officer Jeremias Guadarrama was first to deploy his stun gun, with Olivas immediately catching on fire.
Jefferson said he believes this action startled him, causing him to "unintentionally discharge" his stun gun.
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In his statement, Jefferson said he does not know what caused Olivas to catch on fire.
Jefferson's statement does not include an account from Officer Caleb Elliott, who detailed his decision not to fire his stun gun in the presence of gasoline, saying he yelled to Guadarrama and Jefferson "if we tase him, he's going to light on fire!"
The officers in the room at the time said that Olivas had a lighter in his hand, and that it may have contributed to him being set on fire. The Collin County Medical Examiner examined Olivas' body after he died four days later and could not determine what sparked the fire.
A Tarrant County grand jury decided in August 2018 that the officers should not face charges. Arlington P.D. maintains that its officers acted appropriately.
Taser manufacturer Axon told NBC 5: "We advise our customers not to knowingly deploy a TASER CEW in the presence of any flammable or explosive substance unless the situation justifies the increased risk."
A lawyer representing Olivas' family filed a federal civil lawsuit on June 25, 2019.