PURCELL, Okla. (CN) – An Oklahoma prosecutor cleared a cop Thursday of wrongdoing in the Taser shooting of an apparently suicidal man doused in gasoline who caught fire and died.
McClain County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said Lindsay, Okla., Officer Brian Guthrie’s actions were “appropriate under the law” when he shot Dana Carrothers, 52, of Norman. Mashburn also said Guthrie would not be prosecuted, in a letter issued Thursday.
Mashburn said it was unclear if the fire was started by the Taser or by a lighter Carrothers was holding at the time.
According to the DA, law enforcement began searching for Carrothers on Nov. 7 when a friend reported finding a suicide note after confronting him about allegedly sexually assaulting her relative.
Guthrie and Officer Kyle Phillips located Carrothers in his truck later that night. He refused to leave the vehicle and appeared to be pouring liquid out of a red can, according to Mashburn.
“Finally, Carrothers exited the truck with a lighter in his hand. He did not smell of gasoline. He was ordered to the ground numerous times but did not respond,” Mashburn wrote in the letter, as reported by The Oklahoman newspaper. “He then turned to the truck as if to get in. Officer Guthrie, fearing that Carrothers would return to the truck where he may have access to a weapon and harm an officer, deployed his Taser.”
Mashburn said Guthrie grabbed Carrothers to put out the fire before he “broke contact” and suffered first and second-degree burns to his arms and face.
“As officer Guthrie was trying to get his burning clothes off, Carrothers got back in his truck,” the letter stated. “There was a loud explosion and Carrothers was sitting in the front driver’s seat. He made no effort to get out and stayed in the truck until he died.”
Mashburn said that, according to Norman police, Carrothers had tried to kill himself two other times.