MANITOWOC - The 32-year-old Manitowoc man arrested Friday for standing naked in the street was relatively unharmed after being accidentally set on fire during his arrest, Manitowoc police said.
At a press conference Tuesday, police said a Taser shot by officers had connected to a lighter Travis L. Tingler was holding during his arrest, and the Taser's contact on the lighter likely caused a burst of fire that singed the hair on Tingler's chest and beard.
“I don’t know about bizarre, we’ve had a couple of things happen this year, but it’s just unique to the police, so we acted accordingly,” Manitowoc Police Detective Andrew Trilling said during the news conference.
A short video from a police squad car camera was shown during the press conference in which Tingler was seen fighting the officers, even after being shot with the Taser.
During the altercation, officers used a Taser on Tingler three times. The first try was ineffective and the second attempt resulted in the burst of flames and singed hair.
“The deployment of the Taser more than likely hit the lighter the person was holding in their hand, which caused a small burst, flame burst,” Trilling said.
When they used a Taser the third time, Tingler fell to the ground and hit his head against a concrete curb. Officers were able to gain more control after that, but Tingler still resisted officers to the extent that paramedics who arrived at the scene administered a sedative to Tingler before they brought him to the hospital to treat his wounds.
Tingler was released from the hospital that same night and incarcerated at the Manitowoc County Jail.
According to hospital staff, Tingler tested positive for marijuana and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.177 percent.
Assistant Police Chief Scott Luchterhand said using a Taser is often safer for both the suspect and the officers than to engage in a hands-on struggle.
“When can we use Tasers? Really, after we talk to somebody and they are resisting,” Luchterhand said. “It’s safer than going hands-on, in most instances.”
Luchterhand said that Tasers do not typically set people on fire and that Friday was a very unusual situation.
Police were called to the 1100 block of South 25th Street Friday for a man standing in the street without clothes on and shouting threats. Tingler told the officers he wasn’t doing anything wrong, according to the police report.
“I told him he couldn’t be out in the middle of the street with no clothes on,” the officer said in the report. “I asked him about his condition. I noticed he had a dazed appearance, blank stare and he sweated profusely.”
Police put Tingler in handcuffs and helped him put on pants. However, Tingler refused to get into a squad car and continued to resist officers.
Police are recommending charging Tingler with resisting a police officer, battery to an officer, disorderly conduct, and lewd and lascivious behavior.