Wilson officers plead not guilty to murder charges, trial dates set

Sierra Rains
Joshua Taylor (right) and Brandon Dingman (left)

Two former Wilson officers accused in connection with the 2019 in-custody death of 28-year-old Jared Lakey pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder this week. 

Joshua Taylor, 25, and Brandon Dingman, 34, are scheduled to stand trial during the first week of May 2021. District Attorney Craig Ladd said it is still being determined whether the former officers will be tried separately or together. 

In October, Special District Judge Carson Brooks found reasonable grounds for Taylor and Dingman to stand trial after he reviewed footage from dash and body cameras form the incident, reviewed the autopsy report and heard testimony from the OSBI agent who investigated the case.

The footage of the incident was publicly released by an attorney representing the victim’s family in a civil lawsuit earlier this year. The video appears to show both officers deploying stun guns on Lakey several times while he screams and grunts in pain. 

In an affidavit, the OSBI agent assigned to investigate the case stated that the officers used the stun guns on the victim more than 50 times, for a total of almost four minutes. 

Carter County court documents allege that the officers' 50-plus deployments of the stun guns “greatly exceeded what would have been necessary or warranted” and constituted a “substantial factor” in bringing about Lakey’s death. 

In the affidavit, the OSBI agent stated that Lakey never grabbed or made any aggressive move towards either officer during the encounter. However, the officer’s reports following the incident make opposite claims, describing Lakey as “agitated” and “aggressive.” 

Lakey was transported to the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he died on the morning of July 6, 2019. Court records state that Lakey’s cause of death was cited as multiple heart attacks and “law enforcement use of electrical weapon and restraint.” 

The officers remained on duty for nearly a year while the investigation was ongoing, until they turned themselves in to authorities in July, 2020. Taylor and Dingman are scheduled to appear for a status conference in March prior to their jury trials.