Two police officers from Wilson, a small town about 20 miles west of Ardmore, were charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday in connection with an in-custody death where they allegedly used a stun gun against a man more than 50 times.
Joshua Taylor, identified by the Wilson Police Department as a captain, and Officer Brandon Dingman are accused in court documents of using stun guns on a Wilson man named Jared Lakey more than 50 times last summer. The officers reportedly told arriving medics they had only stunned Lakey “four times,” according to a civil lawsuit filed this year by Lakey’s family.
It’s not clear if the officers have been arrested. Court records list the arrest warrants for the pair as “outstanding” and they do not appear in Carter County Jail logs. Calls to the jail were not immediately returned.
Officers also reportedly told medics Lakey had used drugs, though attorneys for Lakey’s family state a toxicology report showed no drugs were in the man’s system at the time of the incident.
That lawsuit states that officers encountered Lakey on July 4, 2019, following a report of a man “running down the street.”
Court documents state that body camera footage of the incident exists, but has not been released by the department. Wilson police did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday, nor did Carter County District Attorney Craig Ladd, who filed the charges.
The civil lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year, accuses Taylor of misrepresenting what led up to the encounter between Lakey and the two officers, as well as what happened while Taylor and Dingman talked to the 28-year-old Lakey.
The lawsuit states that Taylor reported only holding Lakey at “TASER point” during the encounter, though radio logs released by the police department show him firing his TASER for the first time within minutes of encountering Lakey.
Taylor, in his report, also claimed that Lakey was naked and agitating, something Lakey’s family disputes in the lawsuit. Attorneys representing the family have said the call log only shows a resident calling the police to report a “man running down the street.”
Lakey was not accused of a crime, nor was he resisting arrest, attorneys for his family state in the lawsuit.
Within minutes of Taylor’s first use of his stun gun, Dingman arrived on the scene and began to use his stun gun on Lakey as well, according to the lawsuit. Ladd, in his charging documents, states that the stun gun use by the two officers “greatly exceeded what would have been necessary or warranted by the attendant circumstances.”
Lawyers for Lakey’s family state in court documents that the two officers repeatedly using their stun guns on Lakey created a vicious cycle. They allege officers were ordering Lakey, who was lying face down, to put his hands behind his back, though he was unable to comply due to the continuous use of the stun guns.
Attorneys have also alleged that body camera footage, which they state only begins after Lakey has already been stunned several times, was erased by officers in order to keep it from entering the court file.
The lawsuit also claims another officer, who was not charged with a crime, arrived after Lakey had been stunned several times and then choked him from behind as Lakey was on the ground. That allegation is not included in the charging documents against Taylor and Dingman.
In the incident report he wrote after the encounter, Taylor said that Lakey was aggressive and that the “taser use” was ineffective. He describes a number of instances, such as Lakey pushing on Taylor’s squad car, or saying “okay, we going to do this” that would have not been recorded by body camera footage if the camera was activated, as the attorneys representing Lakey’s family allege, only after Taylor had already stunned Lakey several times.
The criminal charges against Taylor and Dingman are believed to be the first criminal charge for an on-duty killing by Oklahoma law enforcement officers since Blackwell Police Department Lt. John Mitchell was indicted by a grand jury last November for killing 34-year-old Micheal Ann Godsey.
Godsey was involved in a vehicle pursuit and police have alleged she was firing a gun from the vehicle during the chase.
Court records show Mitchell was charged with first-degree manslaughter. No trial date has yet been set.