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Oct 21, 2010 10:06 PM by Alison Haynes

Opening arguments for Taser trial

WINNFIELD, La. (AP) - Former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent used force that was unreasonable and unwarranted when he shocked a handcuffed prisoner nine times during an arrest, Winn Parish District Attorney Chris Nevils told a jury of three men and nine women Thursday.
Nugent, 24, is on trial for manslaughter in the death of Baron Pikes Jr., also known as Baron Collins, in January 2008.
Nevils said Nugent shocked Pikes nine times in 14 minutes and nine seconds while Pikes had his hands securely cuffed behind his back as he was arrested on a drug possession warrant. The first five shocks were made to Pikes' back, Nevils said, using a technique called "drive stun," in which the probes from the Taser
are not discharged, the gun is instead pressed against the person.
"It's a pain compliance technique," Nevils said. "It's used to drive someone somewhere."
Pikes did not want to go to jail, Nevils said, and to try to avoid it he used "passive resistance," refusing to get up off the ground and into the police car, and later to get out of the police car. Nugent continued shocking Pikes as he sat in the car in front
of the station, Nevils said.
But Jerry Glas, an attorney for Nugent, described Nugent as a professional law officer who followed proper procedure and used the Taser as the least harmful way Nugent could try to get Pikes to comply with his orders.
Pikes, 21, was about 6 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds, Glas said.
Glas, who said Pikes was shocked eight times, said the voltage from the Taser as Nugent applied it in the "drive stun method" was not enough to kill Pikes.
"The only thing drive stun causes is pain," Glas said. "It does not disrupt the muscles."
The assertion that Pikes might have died after the seventh shock, was "absolutely false," Glas said.
Pikes, who had screamed each time Nugent stunned him, did not cry out after the final shock, Glas said, and after that Nugent called an ambulance for him.
Pikes was alive when the paramedics arrived, Glass said, but his heart stopped after that.
"And do you know who drove the ambulance," Pikes said. "Nugent drove the ambulance so the paramedics could keep working."
An autopsy showed that Pikes carried the sickle cell trait and cardiovascular disease, which was a more reasonable cause of death, Glas said.
In afternoon testimony, the prosecution played a recording of Nugent's statement to Louisiana State Police investigators in which Nugent said he warned Pikes repeatedly before Tasing him.
Nugent said Pikes did not talk of pain or complain about any condition until he suddenly told the officers he had taken PCP and cocaine and had asthma. An autopsy conducted later found no trace of drugs in Pikes' system.
Nugent said his training indicated that shocking with a Taser was the proper response to a prisoner who would not comply with orders.
The case has stirred some racial tension in this town of about 5,000 people. Pikes was black; Nugent is white.
Both Glas and Nevils denied that race was a factor, saying Nugent never used racial slurs during the incident.


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