Virginia Taser Burn Victim Seeking $95M Settlement Sentenced to Year in Jail

In 2015, Chesterfield County, Virginia, police stopped a man for erratic driving on Jefferson Davis Highway. The police smelled alcohol, and when they asked the man to step out of the car, he accelerated at a high speed and made a U-turn, with police in pursuit. Going 120 mph, the man’s car swerved, hit a guardrail, and flipped over several times, with the driver trapped inside.

The police dragged him out of the wreckage, and, when he became combative before paramedics arrived, shot him with a Taser. The crash scene was saturated with gasoline that caught fire, causing a “fireball” and burning the man severely over more than 86 percent of his body. The crash victim was hospitalized for nearly nine months and underwent at least 34 surgeries. He brought a claim for $95 million from Chesterfield County police for alleged excessive force.

In March, a county circuit judge sentenced the man to a year in jail, reported Despite expressing sympathy for the devastating pain the man had suffered as a result of being Tasered,  the judge reminded him that “you were there because of what you did,” by driving drunk and trying to elude the police.
The 28-year-old man also had a long criminal record, which included three prior police officer assaults, two DUIs, grand theft, brandishing a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, trespassing and numerous traffic violations. The judge  sentenced him to five years in prison for assaulting a police officer, with four years and six months suspended, and to an additional five years, with four years and nine months suspended, for felony eluding police; 12 months, with nine months suspended, for drunken driving; and 90 days, all suspended, for driving on a suspended license.
A federal lawsuit in the case claims Chesterfield police for years engaged in systemic and unconstitutional misuse of Tasers. It claims that the police officer’s use of the Taser was unnecessary, and that the officer had been aware that the crash scene was saturated with gasoline. Further, the officer had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, had returned to active police duty just five weeks before the Taser shooting, was on disciplinary probation for having been cited for “multiple incidents of misconduct,” and was dismissed from the department some months later for other offenses.
The actions taken by the police will be decided in civil court.
Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at

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