Last week, when Dan Jensen was woken up from his nap by his wife screaming, he found a fire spreading from his neighbor’s house close to his house. Jensen ran outside to grab a hose and begin spraying the fire. When he did so, he was tasered by police officers. The incident took place on Beechwood Terrace N in Tampa Bay.
Jensen discovered that his neighbor’s home had already been engulfed by flames and a fence that separated the two properties was on fire. Flames were beginning to hit the corners of his home too. Jensen took a fire extinguisher and emptied it into the fire before he reached for the hose in his garden.
The police department responded to the 911 call before the fire department and officers told Jensen to back away from the fire. He originally did so but became angry while waiting for the fire department to respond. He went to grab the hose a second time and felt electricity fly throughout his body without any warning from the officers.
‘It was wrong,’ he said to the Tampa Bay Times. ‘There’s no way around it. … I was fighting a fire. I wasn’t fighting police. I thought they were here to help me. Instead, they hurt me.’
According to Pinellas Park Police, the officers said that they had to taser Jensen because he was endangering himself and the officers on the scene by continuing to fight the fire without proper equipment. Officers said that it took the fire department just six minutes to respond to the fire. The officers also said that Jensen could have been charged with obstruction. Jensen’s attorney said that the officers used ‘excessive force’ in the situation that was not necessary.
The attorney, Heidi Imhof, noted that the officers do not have the right to taser a person who is unarmed and on their private property. Imhof also said that the officers should have taken into consideration doing other things first such as turning off access to the water, which would have forced Jensen to remove himself from the area.
Police officers are required to make a warning prior to using a Taser, ‘except when such warning could provide a tactical advantage to the subject,’ according to police policy. According to Jensen, he never received a warning and is thinking about taking legal action against the officers.
Jensen was taken to a hospital after being tasered because he suffered from smoke inhalation and scarring on his back from the Taser. The fire was distinguished in a span of 20 to 30 minutes. It was caused by the neighbor leaving a frying pan unattended.