Homegrown Torture

by digby

Just remember, tasering is harmless. You can get up and walk away afterwards, so there's no harm no foul. Unless it kills you. Just like waterboarding.

A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron "Scooter" Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.

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.

"It's taken several months for this case to even be properly addressed, so one has to wonder, why did it take so long?" said Carol Powell Lexing, a lawyer for the Pikes family. "Obviously, a wrongful death occurred."

Nugent's lawyer, Phillip Terrell, said his client followed proper procedure to subdue a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds. But 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.

See, it's not that they couldn't subdue the guy. It's that he failed to follow orders as quickly as they wanted him to. That's what tasers are really for --- teaching the people who's boss.

But Winnfield police Lt. Chuck Curry said race "isn't an issue at all" in the matter.

"This has come down to a police officer that was trying to apprehend a suspect that they had warrants for," he said. "He done what he thought he was trained to do to bring that subject into custody. At some point, something happened with his body that caused him to go into cardiac arrest or whatever."

That's a good one. "Something happened that caused him to go into cardiac arrest or whatever."Likely it was the nine shots of electricity delivered directly into his body. But evidently, this cop thinks that's perfectly ok. It's the prisoner's fault for "whatever."

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]."

Oh, and the police lied:

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.

I've written many times about tasers. I honestly don't understand why people are so complacent about the fact that we are allowing the police to torture citizens into compliance, completely based on their own judgment and with no threat of sanction. Even if you kill someone with one, the authorities defend you.

This is a barbaric practice that should be ended. I know they can be a useful tool if used correctly. But they've been out there for years, there has been ample evidence of abuse and torture with them, and nothing gets done. At this point the police have lost the benefit of the doubt --- they refuse to adhere to strict guidelines and always rush to defend the psychos who happen to get caught using them for no good reason. They've left no choice but to ban them.

more from the newly reconstituted Daou Report.