Louisiana deputies cleared after taser sparks fire that burns homeowner

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ALEXANDRIA, LA (KALB/NBC News) — A Louisiana district attorney’s office has dismissed charges against two Rapides Parish Sheriff’s deputies after a grand jury indictment for negligent injury in a bizarre case dating back to November 2016.

The deputies responded to reports of a man threatening his neighbors and a mailman.

Body camera video shows the man, Walter Hopkins, meet them at the door of his home, holding a knife.

Back-up arrived, and the deputies brought in one of the 75-year-old man’s relatives to help calm him down and coax him out of the house for questioning. When that didn’t work they pushed open the door.

The video shows Hopkins tried to attack them with the weapon. One deputy took out his Taser, and as he pulled the trigger, Hopkins pulled out a cup of gasoline.

The mix of gas and the Taser caused Hopkins, the deputies, and the home to catch fire. One of the deputies then reached for what they believed was a bucket of water. However, it was actually more gas, which caused the front porch to catch fire.

Somehow, the deputies managed to get Hopkins and themselves extinguished. But, the fire spread through the house, leaving it a total loss.

Hopkins was charged with attempted first degree murder, resisting an officer, attempted battery, and hate crimes, but a grand jury chose not to indict him. Instead, the grand jury indicted the two deputies who responded to the scene for negligent injury.

Last week, the district attorney threw out the case.

“First of all, we couldn’t prove the case,” District Attorney Phillip Terrell told KALB-TV. “Second of all, these were good officers out there doing what they were supposed to do. The district attorney has the discretion to prosecute or not prosecute any case. Our job is not to convict people. Our job is to do justice.”

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