David W. Fitzpatrick
CNN Special Investigations Unit
Breaking news today on a story we brought you last week. You might recall the case of 21-year-old Baron “Scooter” Pikes in Winnfield, Louisiana. He died in police custody in January after being shot nine times with a taser gun when he was arrested on a warrant alleging possession of crack cocaine.
The officer who fired all nine shots, says Winn Parish Cororner Dr. Randolph Williams, is Scott Nugent, son of a former Winnfield Chief of Police. Nugent was ultimately fired by the city council and is appealing his dismissal.
Today, Winn Parish District Attorney Chris Nevils says he will convene a grand jury next month to look into possible charges against Nugent. The coroner has already declared Pikes’ death a homicide. And Nevils has received the results Louisiana State Police investigation of the case.
“Now is the time to take this case to a grand jury for a determination about whether charges should be brought,” Nevils says in a statement.
When Pikes was arrested, he was handcuffed and placed on the ground, face down. The coroner said he was stunned six times while on the pavement. Later, the cororner says, Pikes was stunned with a direct shot to his chest, called a “drive stun,” while in the back of a Winnfield police cruiser and two more times on the ground adjacent to the police station. He was dead on arrival at a local hospital.
An attorney for former officer Nugent, Phillip Terrell, has claimed that Pikes was resisting arrest. He said Nugent followed proper procedure, and had two only choices other than letting Pikes go: “Beat him or tase him; he did the right thing.”
The coroner, however, told us that there was no evidence that Pikes was resisting arrest. In fact, he said, Pikes had stopped twitching after the 7th tase - the "drive stun." We couldn't reach Terrell for comment today.
An attorney for the family, Carol Powell-Lexing, who had called Pikes' death a racial injustice, tells us the grand jury appointment is a “welcome development.” Nugent is white; Pikes was black.
In a twist, Pikes is a cousin of Mychal Bell, one of the defendants in a racially charged assault that sparked large civil rights demonstrations a year ago in nearby Jena, Louisiana.
“I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter, “ Nevils says in his statement. “But my obligation and that of the grand jury is to objectively sort through the facts and make a decision that is in the best interests of justice. That is what we intend to do.”
Filed under: Crime & Punishment
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