Wilson officers facing murder charges fired, protest in honor of Jared Lakey set for Friday
Editor's note: The law firm Bryan & Terrill Law representing the family of Jared Lakey published dash cam and body cam footage from the incident on Youtube Monday night. The video is graphic in nature and may may be difficult for some to watch.
Two Wilson police officers have been fired from their positions after they were charged with second-degree murder in relation to the in-custody death of Jared Lakey.
Wilson Mayor Frank Schaff said officers Joshua Taylor, 26, and Brandon Dingman, 34, are no longer employed, but would not comment on when they were let go. When asked about why the decision was made, Schaff declined to comment, citing the issue as a personnel matter.
Public outrage ensued following the announcement of charges against the officers in early July, and after the details of the investigation surrounding 28-year-old Jared Lakey’s death were revealed. A protest in honor of Jared Lakey and against police brutality has been organized for this Friday at 4 p.m. in front of Wilson City Hall.
One of the protest organizers, Shannon Smith, said Lakey was well known as a great and loving person throughout the town of Wilson and many were outraged by his death. Though she did not know Lakey personally, Smith said she has lived with police brutality all her life and wants justice for Lakey.
“Bad cops make the good cops look bad, because there are good cops out here, but these men took it too far,” Smith said. “We just want his name to be known and that his life mattered.”
Erika Graham, who also helped organize the protest, said she grew up with Jared Lakey and his family and is really close with his uncle.
“He was amazing, he was one of those short and stout funny guys that had a big ol’ smile on his face and a laugh that could brighten the whole room up,” Graham said, recalling Jared Lakey’s character.
News of Lakey’s death in 2019 hit Graham pretty hard. At the time, several rumors and accusations about Lakey went around the small town and officers Taylor and Dingman remained on duty.
“They just got to walk around as if nothing happened while his family is living here in town, getting slandered because they’re wanting justice,” Graham said.
With the recent release of body cam and dash cam footage of the incident, in addition to details of the investigation, Graham said she believes the facts show that Lakey was doing nothing wrong and she and his family want justice.
“We’re here to show you that’s not the person he was. We want to show you the good person he was,” Graham said. “We want to remind you of how he made everyone feel. No more pushing stuff under the rug.”
Taylor and Dingman turned themselves in to authorities on July 2. Both officers posted a $250,000 bond and are on house arrest with ankle monitor requirements. They are accused of tasing Lakey more than 50 times for a total of four minutes within a nine minute time frame, leading to Lakey’s death on July 6, 2019.
Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant told the Ardmoreite in July 2019 that CCSD sent a single deputy to assist, and after reviewing the case and starting an investigation, Bryant made the decision to refer the case to the OSBI for further investigation.
An affidavit by the OSBI agent assigned to investigate the case alleged that the use of force by the two officers was unnecessarily committed and constituted a substantial factor in bringing about the victim’s death. In the affidavit, he stated that Lakey never grabbed or made any aggressive move towards either officer during the encounter.
A civil lawsuit filed by Lakey’s family in late May also alleges that the officers misrepresented what happened during the encounter with Lakey. The attorneys for Lakey’s family have stated that body cam footage from the beginning of the encounter is allegedly missing and claim that a narrative written by Taylor describing how the encounter began and describing Lakey as “agitated” and “aggressive” is not accurate.
A deputy from the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, who was not charged with a crime, assisted the two Wilson officers during the incident. According to an incident report by the CCSO deputy, after the Wilson officers had tased Lakey several times, he placed Lakey in a neck restraint.
The neck restraint caused Lakey to go unconscious and the officers placed him in handcuffs. In his incident report, the deputy stated that Lakey “was acting very agitated” and appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants. The deputy cited these reasons for using a neck restraint, adding that the subject was a larger man.
District Attorney Craig Ladd explained why the CCSO was not charged with any crime in a July 15 statement.
“The use of force expert who reviewed the case did not believe the force used by the deputy, under the circumstances and based on what he had been told by the Wilson police officers, was excessive,” Ladd said.
The attorneys for Lakey’s family have stated that the post-mortem toxicology performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was reportedly negative for illegal drugs. According to the deputy’s report, Lakey eventually woke up from his unconscious state, but after around four to five minutes, he stopped breathing and became unconscious again.
Lakey was transported to a hospital in Healdton and then to the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he died on the morning of July 6, 2019.