Metro Transit police officers are under investigation after a man left unattended in a squad car earlier this year lit his shirt on fire and critically burned himself.
The incident occurred about 11:22 a.m. on May 12 near the U.S. Bank Stadium light rail station in downtown Minneapolis. The Hennepin County Attorney's Office said the case has not been presented to them to consider for possible criminal charges.
A search warrant affidavit filed Friday gave this account: Metro Transit police officers Peter Yang and Dmitriy Vecherkov responded to the light rail stop on a report of a male sexually assaulting a female.
The officers made contact with the female. Yang detained the male suspect and placed him in the back of his squad car.
The suspect, a 21-year-old man, is an amputee and has one arm. Yang handcuffed the suspect's left arm to a belt loop on the suspect's pants.
The suspect was left unattended in the squad as the officers investigated the assault.
"According to the squad car video from the interior of the car, [the suspect] is visible maneuvering his only arm (left) and reaching inside his pants pocket," the search warrant said. "[The suspect] is able to obtain a cigarette lighter from his pocket and ignites it. [He] is visible on the video lighting his shirt on fire, blowing on the flame to increase its intensity."
The flames "engulfed" the suspect's shirt and the squad's interior. Smoke "billowing" from the squad alerted the officers, who removed the suspect from the vehicle and extinguished the flames, the warrant said.
The suspect was hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition for "several weeks."
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the case, and filed a warrant to obtain the suspect's medical records to assist the county attorney's office in determining whether the officers at the scene are criminally liable.
The officers involved remain on duty, according to a Metro Transit spokesman.