x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Taser sets man alight

A man whose relatives say had been sniffing petrol burst into flames after a police officer fired a Taser at him.

A man whose relatives say had been sniffing petrol burst into flames after a police officer fired a Taser him as he ran at officials carrying a container of fuel, police said. The man, identified by his family as Ronald Mitchell, 36, was in critical condition at a Perth hospital in Western Australia following Monday's incident in Warburton, an Aboriginal community 1,540 kilometres north-east of Perth.

Western Australia police said they were responding to a complaint at a house when Mr Mitchell ran outside the house carrying a cigarette lighter and a large plastic bottle containing what they believe was fuel. When he refused to stop running toward them, one officer fired a Taser at him, police said in a statement. The man was immediately engulfed in flames. The officer threw him to the ground and smothered the blaze with his hands, the statement said.

Mr Mitchell was charged with assault to prevent arrest and possession of a sniffing substance. An 18-year-old woman threw rocks at the officer as he tried to help, and he was later treated for a cut on his head and burns to his hands, police said. The woman was charged with two counts of assaulting an officer, Sgt Graham Clifford said. Two others at the house were charged with possessing a sniffing substance.

Mr Mitchell's sister, Morinda West, told The Australian newspaper that her brother had been sniffing gasoline and when he ran out of the house he was carrying a lighter and an orange juice container full of petrol. A police spokeswoman Susan Usher said Mr Mitchell appeared to have received third-degree burns to about 10 per cent of his body. The officer who fired the Taser at Mr Mitchell was not suspended, Sgt Clifford said.

* AP