In a development that should give many pro-taser fan boys a reason to pause and think (and about fricken' time if it does), a fired police officer may face criminal charges related to the tasered-to-death case of Baron "Scooter" Pikes.
This case appears to be a clear example of bad info from Taser. And thus they also may be liable.
WINNFIELD, Louisiana (CNN) [LINK] -- A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron "Scooter" Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.
Baron Pikes, 21, was Tasered nine times by a police officer in January in Winnfield, Louisiana. He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner's report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead.
Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes' January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide. Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered. Williams ruled Pikes' death a homicide in June after extensive study. Winn Parish District Attorney Christopher Nevils said he will decide on any charges against the ex-officer, Scott Nugent, once a Louisiana State Police report on the case is complete.
...Williams said Pikes was already handcuffed and on the ground when first hit with the Taser, after the 247-pound suspect was slow to follow police orders to get up.
...Williams, who ruled Pikes' death a homicide in June after extensive study, said Nugent fired his Taser at Pikes six times in less than three minutes -- shots recorded by a computer chip in the weapon's handle. Then officers put Pikes in the back of a cruiser and drove him to their police station -- where Nugent fired a seventh shot, directly against Pikes' chest.
"After he was given that drive stun to the chest, he was pulled out of the car onto the concrete, " Williams told CNN. "He was electroshocked two more times, which two officers noted that he had no neuromuscular response to those last two 50,000-volt electroshocks."
Williams said he had two nationally known forensic pathologists, including former New York city medical examiner Michael Baden, review the case before issuing his conclusions. He said it's possible Nugent was shocking a dead man the last two times he pulled the trigger.
"This fellow was talking in the back seat of the car prior to shot number seven," he said. "From that point on, it becomes questionable [if Pikes was still alive]."
Curry said Pikes told officers he suffered from asthma and had been using PCP and crack cocaine. But Williams said he found no sign of drug use in the autopsy, and no record of asthma in Pikes' medical history.
In the year since Winnfield police received Tasers, officers have used them 14 times, according to police records -- with 12 of the instances involving black suspects. Ten of the 14 incidents involved Nugent, who has no public disciplinary record.
Nugent was suspended after Pikes' death, and Winnfield's City Council voted 3-2 to fire him in May. He is appealing his dismissal, and his lawyer says he followed proper procedures in Pikes' case. He was trained in the use of the Taser by a senior police officer who was present during the incident that led to Pikes' death, Terrell said.
Curry said Taser International, the device's manufacturer, indicates that "multiple Tasings do not affect a person." But he said he could not explain why Pikes was shocked so many times, and said whether Nugent followed proper procedure was "yet to be determined."
But a copy of the Winnfield Police Department's Taser training manual, obtained by CNN, says the device "shall only be deployed in circumstances where it is deemed reasonably necessary to control a dangerous or violent subject." And Williams said regulations regarding the use of Tasers were not followed. "It violated every aspect -- every single aspect -- of the department's policy about its use," the coroner said. ...
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