Osceola deputy charged more than a year after suspect burnt in Taser-sparked fire during arrest

Sheriff Marcos Lopez recommended charge in May 2022

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Osceola County Deputy David Crawford is now formally charged stemming from a 2022 arrest in which the deputy is accused of starting a fire with a Taser which left a suspect badly burned across most of his body.

Crawford faces a charge of culpable negligence with personal injury, which is a first-degree misdemeanor, according to the Orange-Osceola state attorney’s office. If convicted, Crawford could face a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charge comes more than a year after Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez announced he was recommending the charge against his deputy.

During an attempted arrest in February 2022 at a Wawa gas station, gasoline caught fire which caused three deputies — including Crawford — and Jean Barretto, 26, to suffer burns and be hospitalized.

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The incident began, according to deputies, when people called 911, saying a group of motorcyclists was pointing guns at civilians.

“The sheriff’s office received several 911 calls from concerned citizens,” Lopez said in a May 2022 news conference. “The citizens reported two Hispanic males on blue dirt bikes that pulled guns on them, and the occupants of an additional innocent vehicle.”

After an attempted traffic stop near Donegan Avenue, deputies said Barretto fled but they later found him at the Wawa located at 3951 Central Florida Parkway in Orange County.

The sheriff’s office shared helicopter video that appears to show deputies trying to stop a motorcycle rider in what appears to be an orange helmet. The sheriff identified that rider as Barretto. The video shows the motorcyclist joining multiple other riders as they weave in and around traffic, occasionally blowing through red lights and driving against traffic.

An Osceola County sheriff’s deputy is expected to face a charge in relation to an attempted arrest at a gas station months ago where a suspect caught fire.

According to the sheriff, Barretto eventually made his way back into Orange County, but Osceola deputies continued their pursuit under the “fresh pursuit doctrine.”

Florida’s fresh pursuit law can be found by clicking here.

It reads, in part: “Any duly authorized state, county, or municipal arresting officer is authorized to arrest a person outside the officer’s jurisdiction when in fresh pursuit. Such officer shall have the same authority to arrest and hold such person in custody outside his or her jurisdiction.”

Watch Crawford’s body camera in the media player below. WARNING: Video is extremely graphic.

Bodycam video from an Osceola deputy who used a Taser during an arrest at a gas station, causing a fire that badly burn himself and the suspect, according the sheriff's office.

During the arrest, investigators said Crawford used a Taser on Barretto, even though he knew there was gasoline nearby.

“Deputy Crawford was aware there was gas in the direct and immediate area,” Lopez said in 2022. “We know this because he says on body cam, ‘Kill the pump, kill the pump! Gas!’ After that statement, he picked up the discarded Taser that was located in gas. He (Crawford) says, ‘You’re about to get tazed, dude.’ Immediately after that statement with the Taser in his hand, the fire ignites.”

Watch more body camera in the media player below. WARNING: Content is extremely graphic.

After announcing the recommended charges against Crawford, the sheriff’s office said he was placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation to determine how many policy violations Crawford made. News 6 has reached out to the sheriff’s office to clarify Crawford’s current status with the department. This story will be updated if we receive a reply.

The sheriff’s office did release a statement following the formal charging of Crawford. It reads:

“Over a year ago, we investigated this case and sent our findings over to the State Attorney’s Office to review. At this time, we feel it’s appropriate to let the criminal justice system determine if Deputy Crawford did a criminal act that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Osceola County Sheriff's Office

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.