Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Murder by Taser

Posted by Charles II on July 24, 2008

It’s as if the Milgram experiment escaped from the university and infected the entire nation.


Police in the city of Winnfield are being accused of covering up the death of an African American man named Baron Pikes. Pikes was twenty-one-year-old. He was Bell’s first cousin. Baron Pikes died in police custody on January 21st after being shot nine times with a taser gun while in handcuffs.

The city police chief initially claimed Pikes was high on crack cocaine and PCP at the time of his death. But the coroner has just ruled Pikes’ death a homicide, after an autopsy determined there were no drugs in his system. His death certificate states he died after being “electro shocked nine times while in police custody and restraint.” The coroner also determined the police shot Pikes twice after he lost consciousness—tased him twice….

HOWARD WITT: Yes. This incident happened last January…They chased [Pikes] down near a shopping center, near a grocery store in a little shopping center. Nugent subdued him, handcuffed him.

And then, after Pikes was on the ground and handcuffed, Nugent began ordering him to get up and walk to the police car. Pikes either wouldn’t or couldn’t, and so Nugent then began a series of taser shocks to [Pikes], which continued for a period of about fourteen minutes. And over the course of this fourteen minutes, both on the ground and later in the police car and at the police station, they delivered nine of these electroshocks to Pikes, as witnesses said he was pleading for them to stop tasering him. And by the way, everything I’ve just told you comes directly from the police report that Scott Nugent, the officer himself, wrote about the case.

… there were three officers present. Nugent was the one actually delivering the taser shocks, and there were two other officers there at various times during this incident. One of them was a supervisor of Nugent and the guy who had actually taught him how to use the taser…. Dr. Baden, who I talked to, said that in his estimation, what was done to Pikes was tantamount to torture.

(emphasis added)

Is it murder if you tell the police officer that Tasers are perfectly safe?

Is it murder if you tell the interrogators at Bagram and the other black sites that the guys in their custody are Al Qaida?

Bonus history fact: The town of Winnfield voted not to secede from the Union during the Civil War. It is also the birthplace of Huey Long.


11 Responses to “Murder by Taser”

  1. michelle said

    I first read about this at Booman. Not only was he related to one of the harshly treated in Jena, but the coroner said that the last two shocks were to a dead man.

    There’s not much justice in the south.

    Same as it ever was.

  2. Charles said

    There’s not much justice in the north, either, Michelle. Nor even in the east or in the west.

  3. Stormcrow said

    Tasers need to be re-classified as lethal force, and their use subject to the same scrutiny and review. With misuse carrying the same sort of penalties.

    That’s all there is to it.

  4. One of the reasons I have no intention of being anywhere near the Xcel Center during the RNC shindig is that the cops have been given tasers to use on the protesters.

    And yes, what Nugent did to Pikes really was the modern, high-tech version of lynching. All that was missing was actually setting him on fire.

  5. Emphyrio said

    Kudos for the Milgram Experiment reference. That’s a smart insight.

    Yes, it’s the same principle!

  6. Charles said

    I only wish I weren’t speaking about our country of residence, Emphyrio.

    Like Phoenix Woman, I don’t feel free to exercise my rights. If we don’t feel free to do what our Constitution plainly says we may, are we a free people?

  7. Stormcrow said

    No, Charles, of course we’re not.

    We never were. The histories of of the labor movement and the Blacks in this country have made that utterly clear. The only difference is that now the whites are also being shoved down into the serf underclass.

    It’s tasers today. It was clubs 80 years ago. Same thugs wielding them, on the orders of the same sorts of psychopaths.

  8. michelle said

    I apologize for the imprecision of my earlier comment. I was struck by the family connection and didn’t mean to imply that such things only happen in the south.

  9. Charles said

    No need to apologize, Michelle. What you say is true. I don’t think that what happened in Jena is likely to happen in New Jersey or Illinois. The south is a place where hierarchy is very important. Petty crooks, like Baron Pikes, are unpersons.

    But the first thing I though of when I read of Baron Pikes murder was of the Tasering of a Polish guy, Robert Djiekanski, in Vancouver airport. Although the malice involved seems to have been less intense, there has been little justice. As of July 19th, no charges have been filed nor apparently have the officers been disciplined.

  10. Donna said

    I saw again this morning on a Canadian tv channel the small movie made by a woman through the window of the waiting room in the airport. And I clearly saw a terrified guy (the Polish was waiting for 11 hours already for somebody to pay a little bit of attention to him) who was surrounded by 4 policemen who killed him with taser guns. He was already dead when all the four of them jumped him. Very, very strange… One never could think such a thing could happen… And now the policemen are totally cleared. Is there a lesson to learn? I don’t see any. I only saw four guys killing a very scared and unarmed one.

  11. Charles II said

    There are many lessons, Donna. One is that the police cannot come to see themselves as a force apart from society. The riots in Greece illustrate where that leads.

    Another lesson is that “non-lethal” force needs to be examined carefully to determine whether it is torture. The methods used in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, which often lead to death, were designed to look innocuous. It is part of making the person on the receiving end feel even more helpless, by making them seem as if they’re just whining.

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