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October 29, 2015

Former Tate County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Deputy Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Tasing

Former Tate County, Mississippi, Lieutenant Randy T. Doss pleaded guilty in federal court today to unlawfully tasing an inmate at the Tate County Jail. The tasing, which occurred in 2012, caused J.W., a pre-trial detainee, to fall to the concrete floor and fracture his skull.

On Jan. 27, 2012, a jail-wide search was ordered after an inmate was reportedly assaulted with a razor. When corrections officers entered J.W.’s pod to conduct their search, he and his fellow inmates were ordered to stand facing the wall. At the time of the incident, the victim was standing against a wall with his hands over his head, not posing a physical threat to anyone. Doss tased the victim from 11 feet away. The victim fell backward and hit his head on the concrete floor, necessitating brain surgery. The incident was captured on video.

“The defendant was an experienced law-enforcement officer who abused the authority entrusted to him,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The right to be free from excessive force is a Constitutional guarantee for all citizens, including those in custody. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce this right.”

“The actions of the defendant are reprehensible and inexcusable,” said U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams of the Northern District of Mississippi. “He abused his authority, violated the law and the public trust. While the majority of law enforcement officers are hardworking professionals who risk their lives daily for our safety, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to aggressively prosecuting those officers who break the law and violate the public trust.”

“Officers who abuse their power further undermine the public’s trust in law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway of the FBI’s Jackson Division. “These types of cases are some of the FBI’s most important work and help ensure and maintain a healthy democracy.”

Doss, 63, had more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement. He had been certified to train other officers on the proper use of force, including how to use a taser.

The defendant was indicted on March 30, 2015, by a grand jury sitting in Oxford, Mississippi. He was charged with a single count of violating the victim’s right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law. Doss was charged with both using a dangerous weapon—a taser electronic control device—and causing bodily injury to the victim.

The defendant will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Michael P. Mills of the Northern District of Mississippi on Feb. 18, 2016.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division, with the cooperation of the Tate County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Coleman of the Northern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorneys Dana Mulhauser and Andres Palacio of the Civil Rights Division.

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