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Wrongful death claim filed against village of Catskill

Feb 01, 2022 6:00 am

Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union the brother of the late Jason Jones has filed a wrongful death claim against the village of Catskill. The action taken by Justin Jones will preserve his ability to file a formal lawsuit on behalf of his brother's estate in the future. Jason Jones died on December 15, in a burn unit at a Syracuse hospital, 47 days after he was set alight when Catskill village police fired a Taser at him, causing critical lung damage. The state attorney general's office is investigating the incident, including the actions of the police officers who were captured on a police station video camera running away from Jones after he burst into flames. Jones, 29 years old, had doused himself with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in full view of the officers, moments before the electrodes fired from a Taser struck his torso. "Jason Jones was unarmed and not a threat to himself or others, and circumstances did not exist at the time to reasonably justify the shooting of the [Taser] by the village police officer into Jason Jones," the claim, filed by the Jones family attorney Kevin A. Luibrand, reads. "Prior to the police officer's shooting of the (Taser) ... Jason Jones had applied onto his body flammable alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer. The police officer knew or had reason to believe that the electrical current of the (Taser) would ignite the flammable alcohol on Jason Jones' body." On the police station video, the police can be seen abandoning Jones when the flames ignited. Jones fell to the ground and was left to use only his hands to put out the flames that engulfed his upper body and head. Jones died after spending nearly seven weeks on a ventilator in an intensive care unit at Upstate University Hospital. The Times Union consulted with a law enforcement official with extensive experience in police training who said the officers should have immediately tried to assist Jones when he caught fire, comparing it to the imperative to pull a suspect from a burning car if they crash during a vehicle pursuit. The attorney general's office investigation is ongoing. The Catskill Village Police have yet to reveal the identities of the officers involved. Read the full story in the Times Union.