Former Tate County, Mississippi, Lieutenant Randy T. Doss, 63, was sentenced to two years in prison today for unlawfully tasing a pretrial detainee, J.W., at the Tate County Jail. The tasing, which occurred in 2012, caused the victim to fall to the concrete floor and fracture his skull.
At the time of the incident, which was captured on video, 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 defendant is a veteran law enforcement officer who had been certified to train other officers on appropriate use of force,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “The Department of Justice will protect the rights of all citizens from excessive force at the hands of law enforcement.”
“The defendant abused his authority, violated the law and the public trust,” said U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams of the Northern District of Mississippi. “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 an individual’s constitutional rights.”
“In making arrests, maintaining order and defending life, the law allows law enforcement officers to use whatever force is ‘reasonably’ necessary,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway of the FBI’s Jackson Division. “Violations of federal law occur when it can be shown, as in this case, that the force used was willfully ‘unreasonable’ or ‘excessive.’”
Doss had more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement, and had been certified to train other officers on the proper use of force, including how to use a taser.
Doss was indicted on March 30, 2015, by a grand jury in Oxford, Mississippi. He was charged with a single count of violating the rights of J.W. not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law. Doss was charged with both using a dangerous weapon – a taser – and causing bodily injury to the victim. He pleaded guilty to the single count in October 2015.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division, with the cooperation of the Tate County Sheriff’s Office. It was 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’s Criminal Section.