COUNTY OF OSCEOLA, Fla. – An Osceola County Deputy Sheriff is expected to face a charge in connection with an attempted arrest at a gas station months ago in which a Suspect caught fire.
Osceola Sheriff Marcos Lopez formally announced the allegations stemming from the February 27, 2022 incident at a press conference on Thursday.
The sheriff said the investigation was handled by his investigators rather than handing the case over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“This investigation included a complete and comprehensive review of the actions of my deputies,” Lopez said. “I chose not to send her case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for two reasons. One, a taser was used in this incident, not a firearm. Typically, FDLE investigates the use of lethal force. This case involves the use of a Taser, which is considered a less lethal force. So the incident is not the same as a shooting involving an officer. The second reason I chose not to submit this case to the FDLE is because I have full confidence and confidence in the abilities and integrity of my investigators and all employees of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. I knew they would determine the facts based on the evidence and do their job regardless of who was involved in this incident. “
Video from the February incident shows a fire near a Wawa petrol pump as Osceola MPs David Crawford, Christopher Koffinas and Ben Maclean attempted to arrest 26-year-old Jean Barretto.
In February, lawmakers said the incident began when people called the emergency health services, saying a group of motorcyclists were pointing guns at civilians.
“The sheriff’s office has received several calls to the emergency health services from concerned citizens,” Lopez said. “Citizens denounced two Hispanic men on blue motocross bikes who pointed guns at them and the occupants of another innocent vehicle.”
After an attempt to stop traffic near Donegan Avenue, officers said Barretto fled but later found him at the Wawa located at 3951 Central Florida Parkway in Orange County.
The sheriff’s office shared a helicopter video that appears to show officers trying to stop a biker with what appears to be an orange helmet. The sheriff identified that knight as Barretto. The video shows the biker joining multiple other bikers as they meander in and around traffic, occasionally blowing the red light and driving against the traffic.
According to the sheriff, Barretto eventually returned to Orange County.
“We also alerted the Orange County Office and let them know we are pursuing a suspect so they know we were there. Again, it was perfectly legal, “Lopez said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Thursday that the agency did not receive a request for help from the Osceola Sheriff’s Office that day in connection with Barretto’s attempted arrest:
“In accordance with the policies and procedures of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, we track requests for mutual aid and there is no record of a request for mutual aid from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office on February 27. 2022 “.
However, Lopez said Thursday that his deputies did not ask for mutual help, but only notified the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that they were looking for the Barretto.
“We have zero tolerance for this type of (reckless driving),” Lopez said. “We will identify you. We’ll also catch you if you flee to another county because the agency’s helicopters follow the suspect all the time. This is what is called a new pursuit. The new pursuit doctrine allows law enforcement to track and arrest a suspect in another county. “
Florida’s new pursuit law can be found from clicking here.
It reads, in part: “Any duly licensed state, provincial or municipal arresting officer is authorized to arrest a person outside the officer’s jurisdiction when he is new. Such an officer will have the same authority to arrest and hold such a person in custody outside his jurisdiction. “
During an attempted arrest at the gas station, the gasoline caught fire, causing burns and hospitalization of the three officers and Beretta.
According to the investigation of a fire marshal, the gas ignited when an officer unloaded his Taser.
The sheriff’s office confirmed to News s 6’s Jerry Askin that one of the deputies will face a negligent charge relating to the incident. During the press conference, the sheriff identified Crawford as a duty to face the misdemeanor charge.
“This is not a common crime to blame, so I’ll explain it,” Lopez said. “Deputy Crawford knew there was gas in the direct and immediate area. We know this because he says on the body cam: ‘Kill the pump, kill the pump! Gas!’ After that statement, he picked up the discarded Taser that was in gas. He (Crawford) says, “You’re about to be targeted, mate.” Immediately after that statement with the Taser in hand, the fire ignites.
Crawford is now on paid leave. The sheriff said an internal investigation will now begin to determine how many violations of the policy Crawford has committed.
Beretta, meanwhile, will face charges of escaping and evading the police, reckless driving, resisting arrest without violence and a felony charge for making three wheelies on his motorcycle.
Lopez’s update comes the day after attorneys Mark NeJame and Albert Yonfa, the same attorneys representing the victims involved in the Deadly shot by the Deputy of Osceolaheld a press conference in which he claimed that Barretto suffered severe burns from the fireball triggered by Taser.
On Thursday NeJame and Yonfa provided the following statement in response to Lopez’s press conference:
In February, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said it wasn’t sure what led to the gas station fire, but an investigation by the State Fire Marshal later revealed that the ignition was accidental and most likely caused by “an electric shock from Deputies using a Taser device issued by the Department.
The Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement the day after the incident:
State Attorney Monique Worrell, whose office manages Orange and Osceola counties on the Ninth Circuit, said Thursday that the sheriff’s office did not request an FDLE investigation into the incident.
Worrell also said that while they requested updates under the Critical Incidents Involved Policy from the office officers, no details were provided on the sheriff’s office internal investigation case that was not already publicly available. Worrell was briefed on the impending allegations on Thursday morning.
“In order to maintain and continue to build community trust, it is imperative that our law enforcement agencies work collaboratively to provide transparent investigations that our above reprimand,” said Worrell.
Worrell said his office will look into the case, conduct further necessary investigations, and file the allegations.
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