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Man bursts into flames after Taser shock

  • Story Highlights
  • Man holding a lighter, douses himself with petrol, charges police officer
  • Officer fires Taser stun gun when he ignores command to stop, man catches alight
  • Police had received a report that the man and some others were sniffing glue
  • Man airlifted to hospital to undergo treatment for severe burns in Perth, W. Australia
By Saeed Ahmed
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(CNN) -- A man, who doused himself with gasoline and charged at an officer, burst into flames when he was hit with a Taser, police in Australia said Tuesday.

"He was carrying a lighter and pouring himself with petrol," said Inspector Bill Munnee with the West Australian Police. "We don't know if the lighter set it off or something from the Taser."

Authorities have launched an inquiry into what happened Monday when an officer arrived at the 36-year-old man's house in the remote desert community of Warburton.

Police had received a report that the man and some others were sniffing glue, Munnee said.

At the sight of the arriving officers, the man ran out of the house with a container of gasoline and a cigarette lighter, police said.

When he ignored the officer's command to stop, the officer fired his Taser stun gun -- and the man "caught alight," Munnee said.

When used, some stun guns emit an electric spark as they deliver an electric current. The jolt of electricity inhibits voluntary control of muscles, temporarily incapacitating the person.

While the officer tried to put out the fire, a woman from inside the house threw rocks at him, Munnee said. The officer suffered both burns from the fire and cuts from the rocks.

The man was airlifted to a hospital in the Western Australian capital of Perth, where he is undergoing treatment for severe burns.

Police charged him with assault with intent to prevent arrest and possession of a deleterious substance.

The rock-throwing woman was charged with assaulting a public officer.

"He has an extensive record of very violent behavior toward police and people," Munnee said of the man. "He's not Mother Teresa or the Pope."

Two years ago, a man in Texas died in a similar incident when he too caught fire after he was shot with a Taser.

In that case as well, the man had poured gasoline on himself and was resisting arrest.

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