Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Taser Death of Scooter

WINNFIELD, La.-- At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead… What happened in the 39 minutes in between--during which Pikes was handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser device, while reportedly pleading for mercy--is now spawning fears of a political cover-up in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous for backroom dealings, reports Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune

This backwoods Louisiana lumber town is just 40 miles down the road from Jena, site of the massive September 20 Jena 6 Demonstration.

The coincident is just too plain to ignore. Forty miles from Jena is talking distance, and I can assume the authorities in Winnfield were very much aware of the Jena Six case.

But Howard Witt brings out more of the area’s historical background, a part of the country known for corruption and abuse of power.

Witt writes:

Here in the birthplace of two of Louisiana's most colorful and notorious governors--Huey and Earl Long--the police chief committed suicide three years ago after losing a close election marred by allegations of fraud and vote-buying… Just four months later, the district attorney killed himself after allegedly skimming $200,000 from his office budget and extorting payments from criminal defendants to make their cases go away.

The current police chief is a convicted drug offender who got a pardon from Edwin Edwards, the former Louisiana governor who is serving time in federal prison for corruption convictions… All of that tangled history is now wrapped up in the Pikes case, because Scott Nugent, the officer who Tasered him, is the well-connected son of the former police chief who killed himself--and the protégé of the current chief, who hired him onto the force.

Eddie Griffin response:

All I can think about is them electrocuting this young man while he screamed out for mercy.

How can people of good conscious bear it? Are we not horrified by the background and circumstances of this death?

As much as we know of the racial atmosphere of Jena, Louisiana, we have often suspected that the surrounding backwoods area was equally sordid with the vestiges of oppression from the time of slavery. The people here are as suppressed as blacks caught on the highway in Mississippi after dark in the 1950s. They are abused and tortured by those in state uniform, acting under the colors of law.

The key phrase here is "acting under the color of law". Therefore, the excessive use of force, in this case, is "official oppression" and "summary execution", both of which are unlawful, federal and state.

What will happen depends on the U.S. Department of Justice. The state of Louisiana will do nothing. To do otherwise, it could be held civilly liable for Scooter's death.

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