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Home > Topics > EMS Management
November 13, 2012

Cops order neighbor to end garden-hose firefight, then Taser him

Relatives say the man was trying to protect his home with a garden hose; cops say he ignored their orders to move back

By Kameel Stanley
The Tampa Bay Times

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Family and friends of a man shot with a Taser Thursday night as he tried to battle a house fire with a garden hose said they are baffled by authorities' actions.

"He was just doing what anybody would do," Angela Jensen, 42, said of her husband Dan. "He was trying to protect his house and help his neighbors."

Dan Jensen, 42, was still too upset to talk on Friday, but that didn't stop residents in his tight-knit neighborhood from sharing their views.

Many said they don't think it was right that police used such force with Jensen, who woke up from a nap when his wife started screaming about a fire next door at 3420 Beechwood Terrace N.

The fire already had engulfed that home and a fence between the two houses. Flames were licking the corner of the Jensens' home by the time the father of two came outside in his underwear.

Jensen stood on tiny strip of lawn between the two homes and emptied a fire extinguisher. He ran inside, slipped on pants and returned outside, grabbing his garden hose.

Firefighters had not yet arrived, but police soon did.

Officers told Dan Jensen to back off. He did, but then at some point went to pick up the hose again. That's when an officer hit him with a Taser in the back.

"We're not saying everything police do is wrong, but they could have handled it differently," said neighbor Ed Gorecki, 48.

Park Capt. Sanfield Forseth said although Dan Jensen wasn't physically fighting officers, they feared for his safety — and their own.

"They felt that if they went hands on with him, that there was a high possibility he would fight with them," Forseth said, noting that Dan Jensen was visibly frustrated and yelling. Officers had ordered him to get back. "He wasn't fighting but he was ignoring."

There was a good reason for that, his neighbors said. Residents of the area, called Park Place Estates, stick together.

They know each other's names. They babysit each other's children. They go fishing, and have cookouts.

The family that lost their home Thursday had been there 20 years. The Jensens have lived next door for a dozen of those.

"When one of us needs, the others help," Gorecki said.

On Friday, the neighbors met and were trying to gather supplies for the Souvannalay family, who emigrated from their native Laos in 1990.

The husband, a commercial fisherman, is distraught, neighbors said. He isn't sure how he will support his family.

The Red Cross is putting the family up for one more night.

Dan Jensen's daughter, Marina, asked for donations on Facebook. During the commotion Thursday, her father believed she was still inside the house.

He hadn't seen the 17-year-old exit the front door with her mom, brother and their pets. Angela Jensen said that is part of the reason Jensen didn't want to back down.

"I'd have done the same thing," said neighbor William Adams, 38.

Paramedics rushed Dan Jensen to the hospital after he was incapacitated. Authorities said he suffered smoke inhalation.

It took firefighters 20 to 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze.

Ladda Sipayboun, who lived in the burned house with her parents, said the family was preparing to cook fish for dinner on a backyard grill. Someone left the frying pan unattended, the 29-year-old said.

Forseth said officers made a "split-second decision" about the type of force to use. Officer Daniel Sosa-Jones was a few feet away — maybe arm's length — from Dan Jensen.

The officer will have to do a defensive action report; administrative staff have already reviewed the incident.

"I think we can all sympathize with the guy," Forseth said. "But the police give orders and instructions for a reason. Sometimes people are acting out of passion and they don't realize the danger they might be putting themselves in."

Copyright 2012 Times Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved

 

Comments
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Andrew Collins Andrew Collins Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:13:45 AM That Is not cool. I have the right to protect my house no matter what!!!
Dianna Walker Dianna Walker Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:15:17 AM Talk about EXCESSIVE FORCE.. That was totally uncalled for. All they had to do was talk to the man. There was no need for that, he was trying to help a neighbor and protect his own family.
Steve Christiana Steve Christiana Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:16:32 AM Abuse of authority... things like this give cops a bad name,,
Andrew Collins Andrew Collins Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:20:53 AM So it is alright to profile someone and say "They felt that if they went hands on with him, that there was a high possibility he would fight with them,
Spencer Dewberry Spencer Dewberry Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:31:27 AM Abuse of their authority. If its my house or my neighbors house, I'm fighting the fire.
Steve Christiana Steve Christiana Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:41:12 AM so what's next tasing me for fixing a flat on the side of the road, that's dangerous too.... They should be fired.
Adam James Bunn Adam James Bunn Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:05:47 AM Its amazing what a 30 second walk to the spicket could accomplish they could have turned the water off then they wouldent have to go "hands on" they just wanted to see the taser in action but cops can make up any excuse they want its an abuse of authority iv seen them speed right past a officer that is radaring and make illegal turns but that's ok right
Bernard Hendrick Bernard Hendrick Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:21:08 AM The police didn't have a right to interfere as long as he was safe at what he was doing. Police overstep their bounds everyday, and think they have the right to choose who is wrong without blaming themselves.
Jay T O'c Jay T O'c Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:33:45 AM I do agree it was excessive however was this individual putting himself as well as the police officer/firefighters in danger by interfering. A lay person does not have the training to put of a fire and a garden hose doesn't not produce enough gpm to extinguish a building on fire. You people above that say you have the right to put out your own fires need to take a step back and realize that interfering in an operation is distracting and dangerous to your first responders... And maybe you do deserve a tasing
Spencer Dewberry Spencer Dewberry Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:51:21 AM I dont know you and you dont know me but you have a right to your opinion. I have been trained not only in structural firefighting but also in offshore firefighting. Have been responding to fire and ems calls since the early 90's so I know a little something about what it takes to put a fire out. I would think that a layperson would have enough intelligence to get out of the way when the professional firefighter showed up. The cop had absolutely no right whatsoever to taze this guy on his own property. He was breaking no laws at all. I would have been using the cops badge as and ashtray before end of business that day. THE END OF MY TWO CENTS!!
Jim McCoy Jim McCoy Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:52:24 AM I was in a similar situation once. I was the guy with the hose. My nephews car was fully involved with fire in front of my sisters house with radiant heat beginning to impinge on hers and her neighbors house. It was 3 am. I had the hose in November cold rain in jeans a tee and bare feet. Nassau County Police arrived before the FD. They barked once saying the FD was coming and I should back off. I stayed at it and said I m fine. They said...."OK, we warned you" backed off and kept an eye on me. The garden hose kept the houses cool, and car fire at a lesser level till the FD got there, at which point I immediately retreated. A non issue for PD & FD in the end. They covered their butt by warning me. No big power struggle. I was appreciative to them afterwards. It was all good. People have a right to defend their property as long as it doesn't interfear with the greater publics safety.
Jim McCoy Jim McCoy Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:58:20 AM ......***as long as it doesn't interfear with the greater publics safety****. AND/OR operations of official public safety responders.
Wesley Arneecher Wesley Arneecher Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:47:32 AM The government can go fuck themselves when it comes to my private property.
Lennard Fadlen Lennard Fadlen Tuesday, November 13, 2012 2:27:16 PM I'm from the philippines and here we value numbers instead yeah its dangerous but gesssh that is not justified to shoot the guy with a taser , why not just help the guy until the fire department comes , so sad what american law enforcement has become , you just to what you want willy nilly so sad.
Barbara McCoy Nelson Barbara McCoy Nelson Tuesday, November 13, 2012 2:49:22 PM That was the best Thanksgiving ever!!!!! LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim McCoy Jim McCoy Tuesday, November 13, 2012 3:15:10 PM Im so glad I didn't get tazed !! "Don't Taze me bro !"
Paul Edward Morris Paul Edward Morris Tuesday, November 13, 2012 3:33:09 PM Why did the Cops not grab their own police cruser extinguishers? Let the Man fully recognize they really were there to help not attack Him. A little " Support " goes a tremendously long way to better the situation. Just a suggestion...
David Edward Parr David Edward Parr Tuesday, November 13, 2012 3:56:42 PM You have a right to protect yourself, your family and your property, including your vehicle. As a Master Peace Officer, those officers used excessive force, violated that citizen's civil and constitutional rights, and those officers should be prosecuted in federal district court...
Kasey Burt Kasey Burt Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:19:02 PM And if the officers let him continue, and he goes down because of smoke inhalation, who has to drag his sorry a$ out? And if they don't, the public will abuse them for not rising to the challenge.... they don't win either way. Property can be replaced, people can't.
Kitty Lee Kitty Lee Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:40:42 PM he suffered smoke inhalation, I see grounds for the officier to protect him from endangering self (from fire or from smoke), be it done differently or not.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:45:57 PM If everyone ONLY did EVERYTHING perfectly safe there would be no such thing as heroes. I realize EMS workers tend to self-label ourselves heroes as if we have claim to that - though most have never done anything truly heroic, but ONLY a hero risks his life knowing there might be consequences and that's consquences that are not normal in the line of work possibilities because EVERY job has risks and if that 's the case every convenience store clerk is a more a hero than an EMS worker because more of them die in their line of work. Just because your working on a highway doesn't MAKE you a hero - it could make ou a victim, but not a hero - now if you dive in front of a semi to psh someone out of the way and get hit, and hopefully live, you are a hero.
Michael Medley Michael Medley Tuesday, November 13, 2012 5:17:43 PM With the size proud that fire an extinguisher would have done(and a garden hose for that matter) no good.
Michael Medley Michael Medley Tuesday, November 13, 2012 5:20:57 PM Unfortunately for him, he was in a very dangerous position and despite popular vote I'm sure they did what was necessary to remove him from that environment!
Matthew Sherrouse Matthew Sherrouse Tuesday, November 13, 2012 5:39:06 PM His house was not on fire it was an exposure control issue, a water hose to cool the adjoining structure is all F.D. would have done once they got onscene. Cooling the structure to save it from catching.
Paul Edward Morris Paul Edward Morris Tuesday, November 13, 2012 5:45:09 PM Matthew thank you... I think the cops could not see the whole picture... Besides, cops can not do much of anything with the general public without a hand on a weapon... The " older " cops I know can carry on a conversation with me for hours without having to hold a grip on their Guns... It's a shoot em' , Taser em' cop culture today...
Matthew Sherrouse Matthew Sherrouse Tuesday, November 13, 2012 6:27:48 PM We actually have a really good set of deputies where i live (Polk County) near Pinellas Park, In my county I have pulled onscene of a fire and have 5 deputies empty extenquishers to put out a small fire that ultiamtely stopped damage that would have put a family out of their home. This is what happens when the words authority are swapped for serve and protect, but with a dash of common sense, and proactiveness.
Jeff Hamlin Jeff Hamlin Tuesday, November 13, 2012 8:16:17 PM Jay T O'c for you to say that someone may deserve a tasing for protecting their own property is reprehensible.
Kenneth A McChesney Kenneth A McChesney Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:53:00 AM Some boys shouldn't play with electrical toys.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:43:32 AM Jay T O'c But he was NOT interfering. The fire department was not there yet.
Seth Lowell Seth Lowell Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:15:15 AM This police station is clearly lacking proper training and the competence required to fulfill their public safety roles. The officers could have easily taken the man away with their hands instead the police officers take the easy route and use a weapon system they are clearly not trained to use correctly. The police tazed a man protecting his home showing no threatening action to the police in anyway, the man was on his property and defending his home whether he listened to the police or not use of possible deadly force by the police in the situation was improper, non tactical and lacking extreme intelligence. The officer that issued the order should be tazed in the same spot by the victim, the officer should write an apology as well as being demoted and the dept should have to pay this man whatever his lawyer sees fit.
Zoey Bear Tur Zoey Bear Tur Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:22:13 AM Assault with a deadly weapon under color of authority. The taiser isn't a compliance tool, but a less lethal use of force defensive weapon. This is a criminal use of force incident.
Joseph Todd Plummer Joseph Todd Plummer Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:40:59 AM Ymm I bet he suffered smoke inhalation while lying on the ground after being incapicated. The officer was completely wrong. He deserves to be suspended.
J.r. Whedbee J.r. Whedbee Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:49:23 AM If it's my house, I have the right to defend that house, with a gun or a garden hose, fire the bastard that used the taser on him!
David Johnson David Johnson Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:34:11 PM It a sad day when L/E has the right to stop you from protecting your own house, I see this as a way for the officer to use his play toys and evryone is coving it up, those officers should of been helping and not interfering when the sceen, and that Chief of Police sould resign and those officers should have to pay the guy hospital bills out of their own pockets.
Robert Gift Robert Gift Tuesday, November 20, 2012 2:40:04 AM Some police officers LOVE to express their "Power and Authority". THEY KNOW BETTER THAN YOU, STUPID CITIZEN! Of course Dan was too stupid to consider his own safety and put down his garden hose. Why, he might have gotten too warm and not been smart enough to back away.
Robert Gift Robert Gift Tuesday, November 20, 2012 2:55:02 AM Jay T O'c " ... A lay person does not have the training to put of a fire and a garden hose doesn't not produce enough gpm to extinguish a building on fire. ..." Yes, it takes MUCH training to diminish solid fuel fire spread with a garden hose. Yes, let the fire grow while the fire department in en route. And of course we are all too stupid to back away if the fire we're dousing gets too hot. I have put out fires with a garden hose. Amazing what low GPM can do, especially when applied before the fire department arrives.
Jay T O'c Jay T O'c Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:06:52 AM First off, Spencer...you're impressive let me get an autograph. Second If a Police officer is on scene IN ANY SITUATION and tells you to stand down, do it! If you end up getting hurt or he gets hurt because of your stupidity, well go explain that to his family. I don't disagree that tasing may have been excessive but I wasn't there. If you go on a call and make a decision and get attacked later....what right does that attacker have if they weren't there to see the big picture. There is always 2 sides if not 3 or 4 sides to every story.
Robert Gift Robert Gift Tuesday, November 20, 2012 12:16:07 PM Jay T O'c is correct that you must obey a lAWFUL order. That is the problem. An officer may assume that you are Joe Q "moron" Citizen and decide that you don't know what's good for you. Also, what if the house has a propane bottle which ruptures.? Must always consider such dangers. I would use the garden hose fram as far away as effective and be ready to back away if anything becomes concerning.
Bill Towne Bill Towne Monday, December 03, 2012 11:30:23 AM A lot of times, also, law enforcement officers themselves dont think clearly and use their own personal judgement to decide what's best...even if it isn't. This gentleman was not conducting a criminal offense, he was of sound mind and noncombative....use of less-than-lethal force in that manner in that instance should be reviewed hevily for disciplinary actions against that officer
H W Butch Clor H W Butch Clor Friday, May 03, 2013 10:41:10 AM OH, lets protect the citizen from injury by tazering him while he is handling a garden hose and probably standing in water.. It would have been so much easier and safer to walk over and turn the hose off. that would have discouraged the citizen. Instead EMS resources on scene had a patient to treat and transport, leaving a gap when a responder if injured would possibly have to wait..Not a smart or useful action by the officer.

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