Family of man who died in Border Patrol pursuit files wrongful death suit

Lawsuit: Taser shouldn't have been fired into car

SAN DIEGO - The family of a man who died after his car burst into flames at the end of a Border Patrol chase said a mistake caused his death.

The parents of 25-year-old Alex Martin recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit over his death in March 2012.

Martin had driven a rental car straight from his home in Texas to visit friends in San Diego. He had attended high school in the San Diego area.

Eugene Iredale, the Martin family's attorney, believes Martin was tired and got confused.

Just before midnight, the Border Patrol said they saw Martin going the wrong way on Interstate 8 in the Pine Valley area and gave chase, before deploying spike strips.

It's unknown if the Border Patrol vehicle was marked.

Iredale believes by the time the car went over the spike strips and came to a stop, it was damaged,

Iredale said he's since learned an agent went to the car and fired a Taser at Martin.

"When the electric spark from the Taser went in the car, the car exploded and was engulfed in flames," said Iredale.

Iredale said the manufacturer of Taser has warned law enforcement not to use the device in situations where flammable fumes may be in the air. He said the spike strip scenario is one of the situations, and a focus of the wrongful death suit.

"What happened is something common and something agents should have been aware of," said Iredale.

Iredale also contends nearby fire crews weren't called until well after the fire began.

"There were no real efforts to get him out of that car; he burned to death in that car," said Iredale.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the lawsuit.

After the incident, questions were raised about a possible bomb or drugs that could have caused the explosion.

According to Iredale, there was no evidence of a bomb, drugs or chemicals found inside the car.


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