Man burst into flames after police use Taser on him, authorities say

An upstate New York man was in grave condition at a hospital after police used a Taser to subdue him and he burst into flames, authorities said Friday.

The Times Union of Albany reported that 29-year-old man walked into the Catskill village police department last weekend and got into a confrontation with officers. Chief Dave Darling confirmed to the newspaper that officers deployed a Taser to subdue the man, who had just doused himself with hand sanitizer, and the man then burst into flames.

Darling said the officers were familiar with the man from previous encounters.

"I think they were afraid he was going to hurt himself, and that’s what started it," Darling said. "There are still details that we’re trying to develop."


A picture taken on February 2, 2020 shows a flashing blue light of a police car. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

The man was taken to the Westchester Medical Center’s Trauma and Burn Center, where he was in grave condition, the Times Union said.

The police chief described the situation as "horrible" and said it was under investigation by the Greene County district attorney’s office.

Kevin A. Luibrand, an attorney for the man's family, declined to discuss details but said he had asked the police to preserve all recordings and written materials related to the encounter.

Darling said that his officers are not equipped with body cameras but that there are video cameras in the police station.