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Man tasered by police while trying to save burning home

1:33 PM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
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PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Daniel Jensen wasn't running from the law, he was trying to protect his home from burning up. Yet, Pinellas Park Police tasered him in the process. Jensen and his attorney say it's an excessive use of force.

Jensen was still shaken and visibly emotional as he retold what happened last Thursday evening. He said being tasered by police has not only impacted him, but it also impacted his children, who saw it all happen.

He described the Pinellas Park Police officers actions as "brutal." He said they showed "no compassion."

"All I remember is laying in water, being electrocuted for saving my home," said Jensen.

Four days later, burns on Daniel Jensen's body still mark where the stun gun's probes hit him. He says they tasered him for doing what any father and husband would do protect his family's home from an out-of-control grease fire.

The 42-year-old father of two recalls his wife waking him around 6 in the evening, saying there's a big fire at his neighbor's house.

"I could hear it, I could feel it," he explained.

He ran outside and grabbed a fire extinguisher. He sprayed it until it was empty.

"I was calling for my daughter and getting no response. I came out, grabbed the hose and sprayed her room until I heard she was out. I was always taught to help when you can; help is what I tried to do," said Jensen.

He continued to recount the events. He said he then took the garden hose and started watering down his fence and the back corner of his rooftop, trying to prevent the fire from spreading to his property. But with each attempt, Daniel said Pinellas Park Police kept pulling him back... even though firefighters were not in sight.

"They kept telling me, 'Let it go, that's what insurance is for.' That's not acceptable to me," said Jensen.

Captain Sanfield Forseth with the Pinellas Park Police Department said officers could have charged him with obstruction for not listening to an officer's orders.

"I wasn't doing that. What I was doing was what any home owner would do to protect a family and home," said Jensen.

Captain Forseth said the department will not be charging him.

When Jensen saw the fire jump on to his back roof, he again grabbed the hose. That's when he said -- unknown to him -- a police officer pulled out a taser and fired it at his back.

"As I went to grab the hose, I hear an officer on this side. There was a boat here; he was just behind it. He said, 'Hit him, hit him! Take him down, tase him!'" explained Jensen.  "I didn't know they were talking to me, or about me. I was concerned about putting water on the fire, and the next thing you know I'm being tased."

Daniel said a Sergeant ordered an officer to tase him, but the officer never warned him as department policy requires.

According to Pinellas Park Police policy, an officer will use a taser when "other control techniques" would likely result in a "physical confrontation" that may cause injury to the officer or person. But the officer must first give a "verbal warning" that he is going to use a taser.

After tasing Daniel, he said several officers picked him up, carried him to the front yard, threw him on the ground and handcuffed him.

Daniel says he's very disappointed in the police department.

"They should have more tolerance with the public, to exhaust all options before firing electricity into somebody, handcuff them instead of tasering them."

Daniel said about the experience as he fights through tears,  "It was horrible. I was laying in a puddle of water being electrocuted here by the people that are supposed to protect us. I'm trying to protect my family, my neighbor, and they bring harm to me. I don't understand."

Captain Forseth with the Pinellas Park Police Department said they exhausted all other options, and that their goal was to keep Daniel and the officers safe from the fire.   

Daniel and his attorney Heidi Imhof are considering legal action against the Pinellas Park Police Department.

WTSP

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