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No charges for Catskill officers involved in Taser-related death

Oct 16, 2023 1:03 am

Brendan J. Lyons reports in the Times Union that the Catskill police officers who ran away after a man burst into flames when a village officer ignited him with a Taser, will not face criminal charges, the attorney general's office announced on Oct. 13. In 2021, 29-year-old Catskill High graduate Jason Jones came into the Catskill Village police station and doused himself with flammable hand sanitizer that was there because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he was unresponsive with police, they Tasered him, and he caught on fire. A video recording shows all of this, and police running from the scene instead of aiding Jones. He died after spending more than 40 days in a coma in a Syracuse burn unit. The attorney general’s investigation said that the police officers ran out of the room to look for a fire extinguisher and that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was any criminal wrongdoing. The attorney general's office said, “When the officers told Mr. Jones that they would take him into custody, his actions indicated that he would not comply, so one officer deployed a Taser to temporarily disable him, with the objective of putting him in handcuffs," and that, "prosecuting reckless manslaughter would require proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk. Prosecuting criminally negligent homicide would require proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers failed to perceive that risk. For both charges, the prosecution must also prove that the officers demonstrated a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe.” This past January, the family of Jones filed a federal civil lawsuit, saying that Jones had “exhibited signs of emotional distress” and had not been charged with any crime when he walked into the police station. Jones spoke with the officers in the lobby for about eight minutes without any violence before he was shot with a Taser. The three police officers involved were Mark Nazi, who fired the Taser, Daniel Goldpaugh, and Nicholas J. Craig. The attorney general's office questioned the need for more officer training with Tasers, saying, “In an effort to prevent future incidents, (the attorney general’s office) recommends that (the Office of Public Safety) ‘formulate and oversee training on Tasers and similar devices in the Basic Course for police officers, comprehensively study all flammable substances that such weapons could ignite, list those substances in the training materials, and send updates promptly to all departments that have such weapons in use.’" Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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