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Video Shows Border Patrol Agent Firing Taser Into Car Before It Explodes, Burning Driver Alive

Alex Martin burnt to death in 2012 when Border Patrol fired a Taser into his car during a traffic stop.

by Alice Speri
Mar 30 2015, 4:45pm

Image via YouTube

VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.

A recently released video from a years-old roadside incident shows a California Border Patrol agent firing his Taser into a pulled over car, which then sets off an explosion that burns the vehicle's driver alive.

Video of the incident, which occurred in March 2012 in Pine Valley, California, was just made public as part of a lawsuit filed against the federal government by the family of the 25-year-old victim, Alex Martin, who was killed in the incident.

The Martin family's lawyer, Gene Iredale, did not immediately respond to requests for comment made Monday by VICE News.

A spokesman for Border Patrol told VICE News the agency can't comment on the episode due to pending litigation.

The footage, caught by a dashboard camera in the officers' car and presented as evidence in the lawsuit, shows the plain clothes officers running up to Martin's car after pulling it over, flashing a light into the vehicle, and trying to force open the door, before breaking through the window and firing the Taser — which immediately sets off an explosion.

The video then shows the officers moving away from the fire without attempting to help Martin, as he burns to death.

Iredale told NBC News' San Diego affiliate that he believes gas had spilled inside the car, and that the policeman's Taser caused it to ignite. He said the officers should have smelled the fumes coming out of the car and refrained from using the weapon.

Gabriel Pacheco, a Border Patrol union representative, told NBC News that all Border Patrol procedures were followed, and if Martin had stopped when officers first tried to pull him over, this incident wouldn't have happened. But Iredale said that the officers didn't stick to protocol.

Officers in unmarked cars had chased after Martin for about three minutes as he drove the wrong way down Interstate 8. His family said at the time he had been driving for 22 hours from Texas and had gotten lost.

In the video, the officers don't appear to identify themselves to Martin when they approach the car — nor do they attempt to extinguish the fire.

"All three of those cars had large fire extinguishers in them and standard equipment," Iredale said. "Not one of these agents ever even tried to spray any of the fire extinguisher solution on that car."

"These agents approached in unmarked cars, in plain clothes and never identified themselves by the display of badges or even the simple statement 'Border Patrol,'" he added. "This was a senseless act in a senseless way for somebody who had violated no law and who lost their life needlessly."

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi