(TMU) – As public outrage continues over killings by law enforcement officers across the United States, misuse of force and lethal acts carried out by police are increasingly leading to the prosecution of officers previously granted impunity by the criminal justice system.
And now, two police officers in Oklahoma are facing potentially long periods in jail after being charged with second-degree murder in connection with their shocking use of Tasers over 50 times on a man who died in their custody.
Captain Joshua Taylor, 25, and Officer Brandon Dingman, 34, of the Wilson Police Department face accusations that their shocking overuse of the stun guns on 28-year-old Jared Lakey last summer directly led to his death.
The officers had initially told arriving medics that they only used the less-lethal devices on Lakey “four times,” according to court documents from a civil lawsuit filed this year by Lakey’s family, reports The Frontier.
The incident occurred in Wilson, which lies 100 miles south of Oklahoma City near the border with Texas, on July 4, 2019, following a call that Lakey was “acting in a disorderly way,” according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
When Lakey allegedly failed to comply with police commands, Taylor and Dingman began hitting him with their stun guns a combined total of over 50 times, “which greatly exceeded what would have been necessary or warranted by the attendant circumstances,” according to court records.
While officers told medics that Lakey was under the influence of drugs while he was reportedly “running down the street,” Lakey family attorneys say that a toxicology report showed there were no drugs in his system when the altercation occurred.
After Lakey was subjected to what amounted to torture using the electricity-powered devices, a deputy sheriff from Carter County arrived and helped take him into custody, during which time the unnamed deputy choked Lakey from behind. Shortly afterwards, Lakey stopped breathing and was unresponsive. He died in an Oklahoma City hospital on July 6, 2019.
Court records state that “such dangerous and unnecessary tasing” was a “substantial factor” in the eventual demise of Lakey.
On Wednesday, the district attorney’s office issued arrest warrants for the two officers, who turned themselves in the next day. If found guilty of the crime of second-degree murder, the two could face 10 years to life in prison.
Both have since been released on $250,000 bonds, according to state authorities.
Attorneys representing Lakey’s parents say that both officers made a string of false claims in their accounts of the incident that led to Lakey’s death. While Capt. Taylor alleges that Lakey was naked and agitated, the family disputes the claim. Taylor also reported only holding Lakey at “TASER point” during the altercation, but police radio logs show that he fired the taser within a few minutes of encountering Lakey.
Attorneys also accuse the officers of erasing the footage from their body-worn cameras to prevent it from entering the court file.
At no point was Lakey accused of a crime and he also didn’t resist arrest, attorneys claim.
“I have never seen a more disturbing video,” attorney Spencer Bryan, who is representing Lakey’s family, told New York Times. “After watching it, I cannot understand how the city allowed officers who exhibited such gross recklessness, resulting in a man’s death, to continue working. We have great confidence the evidence supports the charges.”
The use of Tasers has come under fresh scrutiny since the killing of Rayshard Brooks by now-former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who faces charges of murder and aggravated for the shooting death of Brooks.
Tasers or stun guns are part of a class of so-called “less lethal” tools used by law enforcement personnel to temporarily immobilize them by jolting them with a sharp, painful electric shock. Taser manufacturer Axon Enterprise claims that the Taser saves lives and prevents injuries.
However, at least 500 people have died between 2001 and 2012 after being shocked with tasers during arrest or while incarcerated, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
And according to a 2012 study by the journal Circulation, electric shocks delivered to the chest by a Taser can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. The study was based on an analysis of records of eight people who went into cardiac arrest after being struck by a Taser X26 from a distance. Seven of the people in the study died while only one survived.
Prison Guard Who Had Sex With Inmate In Front Of 11 Prisoners Is Now Behind Bars
A prison guard in California now finds herself behind bars after she was caught having sexual relations with an inmate – in one case, performing the act in full view of 11 other prisoners.
Former Fresno County correctional officer Tina Gonzalez, 26, was arrested last May following an investigation by the vice unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office’s and its internal affairs division.
Gonzalez, who worked as a prison guard from 2016 to 2019, was investigated after authorities were tipped off that an inmate was having sex with a prison guard who had also smuggled in a phone, reports the Fresno Bee.
In one case, Gonzalez even cut a hole in the pants of her uniform to allow easier access during sexual acts with the unnamed prisoner at Fresno County Jail.
Gonzalez was also accused of having sex in full view of 11 inmates, an act that her former boss says “is something only a depraved mind can come up with.”
Assistant Sheriff Steve McComas, who once supervised the unit Gonzalez belonged to, said that in his entire career of 26 years he has witnessed some “pretty disgusting things” but none as bad as Gonzalez’s conduct.
“She took an oath which she betrayed and in doing so endangered her co-workers’ lives,” McComas said.
“But she has shown no remorse,” he added. “She continually calls and has sexually explicit conversations with the inmate in question and boasts about the crimes she carried out.”
Gonzalez pleaded no contest in April to one count of sexual activity by a detention facility employee with a consenting confined adult, one count of possession of drugs or an alcoholic beverage in a jail facility and a misdemeanor count of possession of cellular device with intent to deliver to an inmate.
When she was being sentenced, Judge Michael Idiart decried her acts as “terrible, stupid” and noted that her career had been “ruined.”
“But I also believe that people can redeem themselves and you have the rest of your life to do that,” the judge added. “Good luck.”
Gonzalez is now serving her sentence of seven months in county jail to be followed by two years of probation.
Judge Orders New Trove of Secret Ghislaine Maxwell Files to Be Unsealed This Month
A large trove of secretive files about Ghislaine Maxwell will be unsealed this month, including those shedding light on her relationship with disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a judge ruled on Thursday.
The documents will include details on her finances, as well as “funding received from the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation,” according to court records.
The documents are also believed to detail Maxwell’s extensive connections with powerful men such as Prince Andrew of the British royal family, reports the Daily Mail.
It has long been well-known that Epstein and Maxwell associated with both Clinton and former President Donald Trump. Clinton also reportedly met with accused Maxwell for an “intimate” dinner in 2014.
The documents are a part were filed by Epstein accuser and former “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre in a 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell and must be released in mid-July, Judge Loretta Preska ruled in Thursday’s telephone hearing.
Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she was accused by the British socialite of fabricating the sexual abuse allegations against her and Epstein in the lawsuit, which has since been settled.
Last July, a deposition by Giuffre was unsealed. In the deposition, Giuffre went into detail about alleged “constant” orgies that Maxwell and the late pedophile engaged in on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
“There’s just a blur of so many girls,” Giuffre explained in the 2015 deposition.
“There were blondes, there were brunettes, there were redheads,” she continued. “They were all beautiful girls. I would say the ages ranged between 15 and 21.”
“The island was a place where orgies were a constant thing that took place. And again, it’s impossible to know how many,” Giuffre said, noting that she was “100 percent certain” that Maxwell took part in sexual acts with the girls.
Maxwell is accused of grooming multiple minors to engage in sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, by befriending them to ask them about their lives and families while building friendships with the young girls alongside Epstein by taking their victims on social outings or out shopping in the 1990s and 2000s.
Maxwell has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, pending trial.
Her five appeals to be released from jail have all been rejected.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.
2 More Catholic Churches in Canada Burned as Third Mass Gravesite for Indigenous Kids Found
An additional two Catholic churches have been the target of likely arson in Canada as anger continues to grow in the aftermath of the discovery of over 1,000 human remains belonging to Indigenous children.
The news coincides with the discovery of a third site where 182 unmarked graves were located near a discovered near a residential school in British Columbia’s interior.
Early Wednesday morning, firefighters were dispatched to respond to a fire at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alberta, which was basically gutted by the blaze.
“The fire was already fully involved from the basement when the first fire crews got here,” Morinville’s infrastructure general manager Iain Bushell told CTV News. “They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or exterior fire fight ever since.”
Police officials have described the blaze as “suspicious.”
Roughly an hour later, a fire was also reported at the Catholic St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, reports CBC.
At least seven churches, nearly all Catholic, have come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks. Activists and Indigenous advocates have also defaced Catholic churches with bloody red hand and foot prints, while demonstrations have also been staged involving stuffed animal and the slogan “we were children.”
While it remains unclear what precisely caused the fires, they are believed to be linked to the recent discovery of mass graves and unmarked graves containing over 1,000 human remains near Catholic-run residential schools for First Nations children.
The discovery came just few weeks after the grim discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodied by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Colombia.
Also last month, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced its discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area.
Another site with 182 unmarked graves was announced Wednesday after an investigation undertaken by the community of ʔaq’am, near Cranbrook, British Columbia.
About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has confirmed that large amounts of Indigenous children fled such residential schools or died there, their whereabouts unknown. Former students have also testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad students died from preventable diseases that rapidly spread in unsanitary conditions, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”
Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are also demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. Activists have also rejected Canada Day celebrations this year to highlight the anti-Indigenous atrocities that the founding of the North American country entailed.