Video showing two Oklahoma police officers using a stun gun against a non-combative man more than 50 times before the man was choked and later died was released on Tuesday by attorneys representing the man’s family.
The video shows Jared Lakey, 28, naked and lying on the ground in Wilson, a small town about 20 miles west of Ardmore, as the officers, Joshua Taylor and Brandon Dingman, repeatedly use stun guns against him over a span of about nine minutes on July 5, 2019.
Lakey died on July 6, 2019. Both officers were charged earlier this month with second-degree murder.
In the video, the officers repeatedly tell Lakey, who appears confused and disoriented but never combative, to put his hands behind his back. But they do not approach Lakey until the end of the video after a local deputy has arrived on the scene and put Lakey in a chokehold as he’s being handcuffed.
The officers later tell arriving first responders that Lakey had removed the stun gun prongs from his body and “fought and kicked” with officers, though that is never shown in the body camera or dashboard camera recordings. The video also shows the officers telling first responders that Lakey “must” have been on PCP, a powerful hallucinogen with a reported side effect of sometimes allowing users to withstand severe injuries.
However Lakey’s autopsy report revealed no drugs in his system, said Spencer Bryan, an attorney representing the Lakey family. And the video shows the officers repeatedly using stun guns on Lakey, often as he lay still on the ground.
“For lack of a better word it’s essentially torture,” Bryan said. “There’s no reason you should be Tasing someone for four minutes in a nine-minute encounter.”
The video released by the attorneys for Lakey’s family is cobbled together from multiple videos that show the encounter from multiple vantage points — Taylor’s body camera, Dingman’s body camera and a dashboard camera. The videos all appear on the screen simultaneously and give three vantage points of the interaction.
The video begins with a 911 call recording where a woman tells a dispatcher she had seen a man running “west on Ada” and “screaming.”
The initial camera recordings appear to be from Dingman’s body camera and a dashboard camera from Taylor’s squad car. Taylor doesn’t turn on his body camera until later in the encounter.
When Taylor arrives, Dingman is standing over a naked Lakey, with his stun gun pointed at the man. The officers say “put your hands behind your back” three times to Lakey, who responds only with a stifled noise. One of the officers then says “non-compliance is only going to get you Tased.”
Bryan said the Wilson Police Department’s use of force policy “places Taser use at the same point in the use of force spectrum as handcuffing.”
“Any passive noncompliance authorizes the use of a Taser which is an extraordinary misuse of the device,” Bryan said. “Most departments identify the Taser as a tool of last resort before moving to deadly force because the Taser is not a non-lethal device it’s a less-lethal device.”
The officers use the stun guns on Lakey a few more times, then ask for assistance from another local agency, saying that Lakey “keeps attempting to fight with us. We have three Tasers deployed at this time … still combative.”
Lakey, at one point does attempt to stand up, but he is quickly Tasered by the officers and goes to the ground while screaming. The stun gun usage continues for minutes, often as Lakey is lying on the ground and unmoving.
Eventually a local deputy arrives and the video shows him slowly approaching Lakey from behind, then placing him in a chokehold for about 40 seconds as the officers handcuff Lakey. After Lakey is handcuffed, the video shows officers realize that he is not breathing. One of the officers begins to slap Lakey on the back, though it’s not effective.
Bryan said he believes the chokehold exacerbated issues related to the repeated stun gun use and resulted in Lakey’s death. The deputy who placed Lakey in the chokehold was not charged criminally.
“It’s well known at this point that Taser use creates a buildup of lactic acid in the body just the same as if you were running a marathon or lifting weights,” Bryan said. “As that builds up in your system it can cause organ failure. In this case you have overwhelming application of that force and it’s immediately followed by this extended chokehold by this deputy … the way the body rids itself of that is through oxygenation and it can’t do that if you’re keeping the body from taking in oxygen.”
The video shows the officers, realizing that Lakey is in distress, folding him over forward so that his head is pointed toward the ground, and slapping him on the back.
“Slapping on the back won’t cause oxygen to return to the body,” Bryan said. “The video shows that for over three minutes they do nothing to help him.”
At the end of the video, Lakey can be seen not breathing and unable to hold his head up. One officer asks if Lakey is breathing, and the other responds “No, you might want to tell them (medical personnel) to step it up.”