Thursday, July 24, 2008

Excessive Force

**H/T mrs. o and my cousin, Trin**

I will say, flat out, that I don't know how tasers work, how well they subdue people, how long the effect lasts. Still I think tasing someone nine times, the first six times in a three minute span, might be excessive.

Especially when the man tased died shortly thereafter. From the CNN article:

A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron "Scooter" Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.
Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish [Louisiana] 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.
I'm not sure what, exactly, Mr. Pikes could have done two merit two more blasts after he was probably dead. The arresting officer, Scott Nugent, maintains that Pikes fought him, but the coroner says that Pikes was already handcuffed when he tased. Nugent's supervisor and attorney offer the following explanations/excuses:
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.
Yes, something mysteriously happened that caused Pikes's heart to fail, something that had nothing to do with the fact that the seventh shot, in particular, was directed at his chest.

Excuse number two:
His partner had just come back to the police department from triple bypass surgery and could not assist Officer Nugent.
Why in the world was Nugent's partner back out on patrol, then?

Further problematizing Nugent's claim that he was just doing his job is this:
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
Emphasis mine.

Despite the fact that 12 out of 14 incidents involved black suspects, a police lieutenant interviewed for the story was quick to claim, "race 'isn't an issue at all'."

The Pikes family attorney noted that the family wants justice. That family has been troubled by injustice in Louisiana for sometime now. Baron Pikes was the first cousin of Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six defendants.


k8 said...

I saw that in the news. More than once seems excessive to me, so I can't even imagine 9 times. Isn't the purpose of using a taser instead of a gun to avoid killing someone?

elle said...

Isn't the purpose of using a taser instead of a gun to avoid killing someone?

I thought so, too, k8!

Zan said...

Because a man who is handcuffed and in the back of your cop car is ooooh so dangerous. Shock him again. *sigh*

Was it mentioned in this article that the police department has had 14 instances of taser use -- and this ONE cop was responsible for TEN of those. Oy.

Everytime something like this happens, I wince.

elle said...

Zan, yep, it mentions that!

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...