Osceola County, FL — For the last several months, 26-year-old Jean Barreto has been fighting for his life in a Florida hospital after being set on fire by an Osceola County deputy. Barretto was pumping gas when a deputy deployed a taser, ignited the pump, causing it to explode, and cooked this innocent man alive.
On February 27, Barretto had pulled his motorcycle into a gas station to fill it up when he was approached by deputies. Because the Osceola County sheriff’s department has not yet released body camera footage, we have no idea what was said before the deputy tasered him. However, surveillance footage shows that Barretto was merely pumping gas when deputies approached him.
This week, the NeJame Law firm who is representing Barretto, issued a press release addressing the problems with their client’s case. Barretto was never charged with a crime and the department has been withholding vital information about what transpired that day, according to the attorneys.
In fact, deputies never admitted that it was the taser which caused the fire and it is against policy to deploy a taser near a gas pump. It was only later revealed through a fire marshal investigation this week that the taser was indeed the cause of the explosion.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, attorneys Mark NeJame and Albert Yonfa criticized OCSO for not turning over body-worn camera footage and incident reports and requested the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and commence an investigation into the protocols, practices, policies, and procedures of the Sheriff’s Office.
Barretto was pumping gas for over a minute-and-a-half before being tackled from behind by an Osceola County sheriff’s deputy who had been following him to the gas station in Orange County, according to video footage obtained by the Sentinel. Video showed at least three other Osceola deputy vehicles surrounding Barretto and his dirt bike. When he was on the ground a deputy then deployed a Taser, causing a fireball explosion, the video showed.
The attorneys criticized the deputies for their response to the incident describing the use of the stun gun as “reckless, foolish, unnecessary and deadly.” They also questioned why “military tactics” were used when Barreto was unarmed and not a threat.
According to the release, deputies in Osceola have a no tolerance policy in regard to motorcycle enthusiasts gathering in town. They had just broken up one of these gatherings and Barretto was on his way home, when he stopped to fuel up his bike.
According to police, someone on a motorcycle allegedly pointed a gun an another motorist but given the fact that Barretto was unarmed, it is very unlikely that it was him. Nevertheless, officers attacked him as if he were armed and dangerous and their tactics have ruined a man’s life — if he lives.
“While being cooked alive, Mr. Barreto sustained third-degree burns on approximately 75% of his body, front and back from his feet to the bottom of his neck,” his attorneys said. “He is wrapped and unwrapped in gauze daily, bleeding profusely still as he doesn’t have the requisite amount of skin to contain his body fluids.”
There are no plans for Barretto’s release from the hospital and he’s already undergone six surgeries. He is receiving excruciating treatments that require his dead skin to be routinely peeled from his body. The next procedure is apparently so painful that he will be placed in a medically induced coma before receiving it.
“He is not going to be the same,” Barretto’s stepmother, Frances Aponte told WFTV.
According to Aponte, after she got a call that her stepson was in the hospital, police refused to tell her why Barretto was there and refused to let her see him.
“They said I had to wait until Monday, that Monday, to get information about my son because they said he was under arrest,” Aponte said.
That arrest never came, nor did any charges, and it appears that the department is circling the wagons to keep this massive blunder under wraps.