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Homeowner tazered by police while trying to put out house fire

8:02 PM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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Pinellas Park, Florida-Your neighbor's house is on fire and it's threatening your home. What do you do as you wait for firefighters to arrive? One man picked up a hose- except this got him tazered by police.

Daniel Jensen is resting in his home after being treated for smoke inhalation.

His attorney says he's too emotionally upset to speak to reporters after being tazered in front of his two children.

Neighbor Luis Rosa witnessed Jensen as he stood between his home and his neighbor's home using a hose to put out the fire threatening both homes.

Luis Rosa says Jensen did what any homeowner would do as a raging grease fire next door threatened his home Thursday evening.

"He was basically just protecting his property. He was hosing the fence down making sure the fire didn't jump to the other side, and he was doing a good job."

Rosa says Pinellas Park Police pulled Jensen back from the fire several times.

"First they pulled the hose away from him, then they said 'you got to get out', and they kind of pushed him back. He looks back of the house sees the fire starting to jump over again."

By then Rosa said with no firefighters in sight, Jensen lost his patience.

Rosa said he heard Jensen asking, "Where the hell are the firefighters? Where the hell are the firefighters? He ran back and grabbed the hose."

And that's when Rosa says he saw an officer grab a tazer. "By the garbage can-  the cop just tazered him and he dropped to the ground, and then the other two cops grabbed him and put him the cop cruiser."

"They were trying to get him out of that dangerous situation," says Captain Sanfield Forseth with the Pinellas Park Police Department.

Pinellas Park Police say they tazered Jensen after exhausting all their options.

Captain Forseth said, "They made several attempts verbally to get him out. He'd walk in, they'd pull him back- he kept pulling forward towards the fire. He wouldn't allow them to pull him back..."

Rosa said, "I thought it was totally abusive, and they did not have to do it. You get emotional when these things happen; he reacted the way he's suppose to react- rather than handle the situation they said here this short cut."

Rosa said the officers could have spent more time talking to Jensen then each other. "Instead of walking him (Jensen) to the front and they (police) stand here chatting, they could have calmed him down."

Jensen's attorney Heidi Imhof says police went too far. "He was trying to protect his home, protect his neighbor's home. He was tazered while standing in a puddle of water. This is clearly an excessive use of force case."

Pinellas Park Police say they have enough to charge Jensen with obstruction but Captain Forseth said they are not going to do that.

Imhof says the officer who tazed Jensen was ordered to by his sergeant. 

Isabel Mascarenas

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