- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - A former Tate County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to two years in prison and two years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to illegally using a stun gun on an inmate in 2012.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mills rejected a call from Randy Doss’ lawyer to only sentence him to probation, saying Doss’ use of a stun gun against inmate James Williams of Arkabutla was “inexcusable.”

“We need officers who have self-control and who know when force is appropriate and when it’s not,” Mills told Doss, saying he had caused a permanent brain injury to Williams. “He will carry, for the rest of his life, the damage and the harm you did to him.”

Williams was being held in the Tate County jail in January 2012 when officers were searching cells following an altercation in another cell block. Williams was among inmates lined up against a wall when Doss shocked him from 11 feet away.

The man fell backward, hit his head on the concrete floor and fractured his skull. Doctors removed a bone from Williams’ skull during surgery, and Williams testified Thursday that he suffers intense headaches, can’t stand for long periods, and has been unable to hold a job following his release from a 23-day hospitalization.

“There are a lot of things that I wanted to do that I won’t be able to do in life,” said Williams, 31. “There are a lot of things that I’m not going to be able to give my kids because I can’t go to work.”

Doss pleaded guilty in October to a single count of violating Williams’ rights. As the sheriff department’s training officer, Doss was certified to teach other officers when they should use force, including stun guns.

Williams testified Tate County paid him almost $400,000 to compensate him.

George Lucas, a lawyer representing Doss, told Mills that his client deserved probation, although prosecutors agreed to recommend a two-year sentence under Doss’ plea agreement. Lucas argued that there was no point to imprisoning Doss, who is 63 and suffering from health problems.

“He will never be able to work in law enforcement again,” Lucas said. “That is certainly sufficient punishment.”

Doss disputed prosecutors’ claims that he had told another Tate County jail official that he intended to shock someone that day, saying the remark had been misconstrued. Doss said if he had wanted to act maliciously, he could have used his Taser against an inmate in an area without security cameras. Doss’ stunning of Williams was recorded on video.

Prosecutor Rob Coleman said the attack on Williams was unprovoked.

“For the life of me, I don’t see how anyone could have felt threatened by Mr. Williams,” Coleman said.

After the sentencing, Williams said he would have preferred Doss get more jail time. Federal sentencing guidelines called for Doss to be sentenced from four to five years in prison, but Mills said he was choosing to follow prosecutors’ recommendation.

“I don’t think he got enough,” Williams said. “If it had been me doing that to another civilian, they would have been trying to hang me.”


Follow Jeff Amy at: https://twitter.com/jeffamy. Read his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy

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