'Arlington, TX — The family of an Arlington, Texas man is suing the city of Arlington after two police officers used their tasers on him — while he was soaked in gasoline — and set him on fire, killing him, according to a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court last week.
The lawsuit also claims that one of the officers lied about using his taser and blames the Arlington Police Department’s use-of-force policy for Gabriel Eduardo Olivas’ death, according to the Star-Telegram.
The incident happened in July 2017 as Olivas doused himself in gasoline and told his wife and son that he wanted to kill himself. Olivas’ son called police who showed up and established no need to use deadly force as Olivas was unarmed, according to the lawsuit.
According to the family’s attorney, after police arrived, the incident unfolded as follows:
On July 10, 2017, Arlington, Texas police received a call from a family member of Gabriel Olivas. Mr. Olivas was threatening to commit suicide in his Arlington home by pouring gasoline on himself and lighting himself on fire. Police responded and entered Mr. Olivas’ home. Police encountered Mr. Olivas’ family members, but they did not remove family members from the home. Instead, police interacted with Mr. Olivas with family members present.
The three police officers who entered the home smelled the odor of gasoline. When officers encountered Mr. Olivas in a bedroom, they saw Mr. Olivas at one point douse himself with gasoline. One officer told the other two officers that Mr. Olivas would catch fire if they Tased him. Despite that, and officers’ knowledge that Taser use would likely catch Mr. Olivas on fire, the other two officers shot their Tasers at Mr. Olivas. Mr. Olivas caught fire, causing the home to catch fire. Mr. Olivas died a few days later as a result of burns over approximately 85% of his body, and smoke inhalation.
Constitutional rights lawyer Dean Malone filed suit in federal court in Dallas, on June 25, 2019, on behalf of the family. Mr. Malone said, “It is unfortunate that police officers chose to Tase Mr. Olivas, when he was doused with gasoline, after being told by a fellow officer that he would catch fire if he were Tased. This is also troubling because the officers’ prior training indicated to them the significant hazard of using a Taser when flammable fumes and/or liquids are present. Mr. Olivas died a horrible death as a result.”'
Read more: Family Sues After Cops Tasered Man Doused in Gasoline, Burning Him to Death