OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City police officer on Wednesday shot and killed the man who had doused himself in lighter fluid and was trying to set himself on fire in a residential neighborhood, authorities said.
Responding to a report about a man who was suicidal early Wednesday, Sgt. Keith Sweeney and Officer Troy Nitzke found 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon trying to set fire to himself with a lighter in a courtyard surrounded by homes, Capt. Bo Mathews said. Nitzke fired a bean bag at Pigeon, to no effect, before Sweeney shot him with his service weapon, killing him, he said.
"When you've got someone with lighter fluid in one hand and a lighter in the other, trying to set himself on fire, sparking a lighter, you've got to do something," Mathews said.
Both officers were placed on paid leave pending an investigation into the shooting that will be turned over to the prosecuting attorney's office, the captain said.
Mathews said he didn't know if either officer was equipped with a stun gun — about half of the city's 650 police officers are certified to carry them. But Axon, the company that makes the Taser, notes on its website that the weapons can cause flammable materials to catch fire and shouldn't be used in the presence of such materials "unless the situation justifies the increased risk."
Last week near Lindsay, about 45 miles south of Oklahoma City, a man was burned beyond recognition when he re-entered a gasoline soaked van after being shot by police with a stun gun. McClain County sheriff's Det. David Tompkins identified the man who died as Dana Dean Carrothers. Police said Carrothers, 52, had been reported missing and was suicidal.