LINDSAY, Okla. – Authorities have cleared an Oklahoma police officer following the burning death of a Lindsay man.
Last month, officers were called to a rural part of McClain County on reports of a man acting erratic with a gun.
“It was kind of a situation that they could not win. They could only do the best that they could do,” said Lindsay City Manager Stephen Mills.
When the officers backed the man into an area near 100th St. and Council, investigators say he tried to ram the officers with his vehicle.
“He was hollering something inside but they couldn’t hear him because the windows were up. They saw him moving around a gas can but they didn’t actually see any gas coming out. They just assumed he’s dumping gasoline inside there,” said Mills.
The man, who was identified as 52-year-old Dana Dean Carrothers, got out of his van with a lighter and ignored commands to drop it and get on the ground.
When he turned back to the vehicle, one of the officers deployed a taser. Immediately, the man's clothes ignited.
"But it was just a small fire on his clothes at this point. They attempted to put him out and keep him from getting into the vehicle. The officer caught fire. His hands got burned. He stopped. Another officer helped put him out," Mills said.
The man was able to climb back in his car and he erupted into flames once inside the vehicle.
Officials say Carrothers had previously been reported missing and was suicidal.
On Friday, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced that the officers' actions during the incident were appropriate.
In a letter obtained by the Associate Press, Mashburn said that Officer Brian Guthrie was "justified and appropriate" when he deployed a taser at Carrothers.