Florida deputy who ‘cooked alive’ motorcyclist faces charges a year after incident

  • Jean Barretto Baerga and her attorney say they plan to seek taxpayer money to help cover the $7 million in medical costs she has had since she was set on fire.
  • Barretto Baerga ‘barely survived’ the incident that left burns on 75 percent of his body, his lawyer said
  • Deputy David Crawford was indicted after using a Taser on Barretto Baerga at a Florida gas station, causing a fireball.

A motorcyclist wants taxpayers to pay $7 million in medical bills after he is set on fire and nearly killed by a Florida sheriff’s deputy.

Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy David Crawford was indicted Thursday by prosecutors with culpable negligence more than a year after Tasering Jean Barretto Baerga while she was refueling.

Barretto Baerga, 26, had been chased by officers after fleeing from law enforcement who responded to a report of a group of motorcyclists driving recklessly.

The fire, which was caused by Crawford’s stun gun, left Barretto Baerga with severe burns over nearly three-quarters of his body.

Crawford was also badly burned in the fire and is still on leave more than a year after the incident in February 2022.

“They will cost Osceola County taxpayers millions,” Barretto Baerga’s attorney, Mark NeJame, said. ‘There should be consequences, because how else can we prevent this type of activity from happening again?’

Jean Barretto Baergo last February in the hospital after the Tasing incident that caused a fire, which left burns on 75 percent of her body.
Deputy David Crawford has been indicted for culpable negligence more than a full year after testing Barretto Baergo.

NeJame said her client had burns everywhere but her face from a mask, her hands from wearing gloves, and her feet from shoes, according to Fox 35.

Second and third degree burns have caused $7 million in medical costs.

“He barely survived,” NeJame said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “Her life will always be in danger due to the enormous amount of scar tissue and the damage done to her body. … He is doing everything possible to spend his life with these cards that have been dealt to him.’

Body camera footage from the 2022 incident showed Crawford accosting Barretto Baerga at the gas pump without announcing himself first.

A second officer, Christopher Koffinas, used his stun gun on the victim, at which point Crawford yelled at the backup officers to turn off the gas pump.

Several seconds later, as Barretto Baerga lay in a pool of gasoline, Crawford pointed his taser and said, “You’re going to be tasered again, mate,” and then fired.

The fire ignited instantly and flames engulfed the motorcyclist.

Koffinas received a 40-hour unpaid suspension for first firing his taser, but does not face criminal charges.

NeJame, an attorney for Barretto Baerga, praised the State’s Attorney’s Office’s charging decision. He praised the office’s “continued professionalism and diligence in this matter.”

The charges were first announced by Sheriff Marcos Lopez, but prosecutors have now formally charged the officer.

Crawford was placed on leave after the incident and has not been fired, not even a year later.

“We believe it is appropriate to leave it to the criminal justice system to determine whether Officer Crawford committed a criminal act that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” sheriff’s officials said after formal charges were filed.

Crawford on fire after the tase. In gruesome body cam footage, he is seen screaming and rolling on the ground trying to put out the fire in his legs.
The charge against Crawford coincides with the one announced last year by Sheriff Marcos Lopez (pictured). In the aftermath of the fire, López told a town hall that he was not considering changing the tactics that he uses by force on him for future similar arrests.

In the aftermath of the fire, Lopez told a town hall that he was not considering changing the tactics his force uses for future similar arrests.

When the charging recommendations against Crawford were announced last May, Lopez said officers believed Barretto Baerga fit the description of a man on a dirt bike who allegedly pulled a gun on a driver.

No weapon was found on Barretto Baerga, although Lopez claimed the victim may have “thrown” the weapon.

NeJame asked the US Department of Justice and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Sheriff’s Office; none took up the case.

Attacking Sheriff’s Office protocols, NeJame said, “If he (his client) was driving recklessly, charge him with reckless driving, but he almost didn’t kill someone and set them on fire.”

‘You can’t make law enforcement go crazy. They are supposed to be our protectors, not our lighters.