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Man douses himself in hand sanitizer, bursts into flames after officers tase him during confrontation

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Brendan J. Lyons

Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

A 29-year-old Catskill man is in a Syracuse burn unit after he burst into flames when Catskill police officers used a Taser to subdue him after he had doused himself with hand sanitizer, police confirmed on Friday.

Jason Jones, a celebrated athlete at Catskill High School more than a decade ago, is in an intensive care unit at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. His condition is grave, according to people briefed on the matter.

The incident unfolded last weekend when Jones, who appeared intoxicated, walked into the village police department and got into a confrontation with officers. Chief Dave Darling, a former State Police senior investigator, confirmed that officers deployed a Taser to subdue Jones, who was familiar to them from past 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.”

The chief described the incident as “horrible” and said it is under investigation by the Greene County district attorney’s office. It’s unclear when Jones poured hand sanitizer on himself, and if police saw him do it. Darling did not respond to follow-up questions.

A law enforcement source briefed on the investigation said that Jones had stripped off some his clothing in the police station and doused himself with hand sanitizer in front of officers before they tasered him. The chief declined to comment on that information.

Members of the Catskill village board of trustees also did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday afternoon.

Kevin A. Luibrand, an attorney for Jones’ family, declined to discuss details of the matter. “We’ve requested preservation of all recordings and written materials and have no further comment,” he said.

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

In a letter to Darling dated Thursday, Luibrand requested that the department preserve all evidence in the case, including audio and video recordings from street cameras and other devices, as well as any computer data from any Tasers that were used during the encounter.

The Times Union published stories roughly 13 years ago highlighting Jones’ standout athletic performances at Catskill High School, including on the track and basketball teams.

Note: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong medical center where Jones is being treated.

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