Lancaster, Ohio, police discovered that their newly issued stun guns can set their targets on fire, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Officers had to pat out the flames on a 31-year-old homeless man who reportedly had been inhaling a chemical from a spray can to get high. The man was not seriously injured.
The makers of stun guns warn that such fires are rare but a risk nonetheless. Lancaster’s policy for the department’s seven new Tasers says that the devices shouldn’t be used when flammable materials are evident. Police Chief David Bailey said officers “didn’t know the vapor was present and would flash.  It wasn’t as if the suspect was doused in a chemical.” CNN reported last month that a man in Australia who had been huffing a chemical poured gasoline on himself as he charged police. An officer used a stun gun, and that man burst into flames and was seriously injured. A man died in Texas in 2007 after police hit him with pepper spray and then jolted him with a stun gun, according to published reports.