The family of a man who died after a fiery explosion along Interstate 8 more than a year ago is suing the federal government.
The family of 25-year-old Alex Martin said he was on his way back to Texas from San Diego after visiting friends on March 15, 2012.
According to court documents, Border Patrol agents got a call around midnight that Martin was going the wrong way on I-8 near Pine Valley. Agents say he failed to yield so they deployed spike strips and were able to pull him over.
At that time the Border Patrol claimed that an agent approached Martin’s car window to arrest him, when Martin ignited something, causing his car to explode.
The family claim border patrol agents mistakenly used a taser, which caused an explosion and resulted in their son’s death.
The family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit this past week and said this could’ve been avoided if the federal government had properly trained agents.
“What caused the car to ignite was the spark from the taser that they shot at him,” said Attorney Eugene Iredale who is representing the Martin family.
Border Patrol has yet to say whether they used a taser, but Iredale claims their report shows that they did. He said said Taser International manufactures most tasers used by law enforcement officers.
According to a disclaimer that the company issues to officers, the taser can ignite explosive materials: including gasoline and other flammable liquids.
“This was a car that had driven over spike strips and then pulled over into a rough area,” explained Iredale. “So it’s highly likely that there were fumes either from the engine or from the gas line,” he said.
More than a year later the Martin family calls their son’s death a big mistake.
“This young man must have been in agony for the last minute or minutes of his life, he was burning up inside a car.”
The U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Border Patrol has declined to discuss the case.