Brandon Dingman and Joshua Taylor, two former Oklahoma police officers, face up to 10 years in prison each after being convicted of second-degree murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for tasering an unarmed man to death.
The two officers from Wilson County, Dingman, 35, and Taylor, 27, allegedly tasered 28-year-old Jared Lakey over 50 times as they were responding to a call that he was acting “disorderly.”
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the authorities who looked into Lakey’s death, the victim was tasered after failing to comply with the former officers’ orders to put his hands on his head. Lakey was reportedly lying naked, face down in a ditch, clearly in some state of mental and physical duress.
ABC News reported that a Carter County deputy from the sheriff’s office later arrived to help Jared Lakey get securely in custody, but by then it was basically too late. Shortly after the incident, Lakey became unresponsive and stopped breathing, which prompted the officers to take him to the hospital.
The Taser-X26Ps, known as a “less lethal” stun gun model, was used on the victim for over nine minutes, according to WSWS.
Prosecutors said that repeated use of the tasers was “dangerous and unnecessary” and a “substantial factor” into Lakey’s death.
Axon, the company that makes the stun gun, which they call a “directed energy weapon,” stated that “repeated, prolonged or continuous energy weapon applications may contribute to cumulative exhaustion, stress, cardiac, physiologic, metabolic, respiratory and associated medical risks which could increase the risk of death or serious injury.”
“Most human energy weapon lab testing has not exceeded 15 seconds of energy weapon application,” Axon continued. The two former officers applied the tasers for over nine minutes, stunning Lakey over 50 times.
“The Lakey family is grateful to the jury and the district attorney for the convictions, but the risk to the public remains because these officers didn’t violate their policy or training,” said Lakey family lawyer J. Spencer Bryan.
“The Wilson police chief testified that Jared’s torture was consistent with policy,” he explained, “which is how Wilson has decided to police the community.”
The Lakey family has also filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Wilson, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, the two former officers, and the deputy from the sheriff’s office, claiming that it should be against policy to be able to taser an unarmed man over 50 times, especially when it can lead to their death.
“We obviously hope an appeal will correct this injustice,” said Warren Gotcher, an attorney representing ex-officer Joshua Taylor. He said that he was “extremely disappointed” with the verdict given on Friday, since his client operated within the policies laid out by the city of Wilson.
Wilson Police Chief Kevin Coley did not speak on the verdict, or the federal lawsuit. Brandon Dingman and Joshua Taylor will both be formally sentenced next month.
“It’s just a tragedy for everybody,” said Shannon McMurray, Brandon Dingman’s lawyer. “They were truly, truly concerned for his safety and theirs if they had gone hands-on… In my opinion, they acted within policy.”
According to District Attorney Craig Ladd, however, Brandon Dingman and Joshua Taylor were supposed to be trained to not exceed use of the device past 15 seconds.
“They clearly failed to adhere to these safety guidelines,” DA Craig Ladd testified on Monday. “They tasered Jared… even though it wasn’t clear whether Jared truly understood what was going on or what he was being requested to do. He never made any aggressive moves towards the officers, swung at them, lunged at them, or kicked at them.”
Back in September, another stun gun incident occurred when a Colorado man was tasered and held in custody for four months even though he was deaf and couldn’t understand the officer’s commands.