Former Louisiana police officer accused of repeatedly jolting handcuffed man
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - August 13, 2008 - A former police officer accused of repeatedly jolting a handcuffed man with a Taser before he died was indicted on a manslaughter charges Wednesday by a grand jury in central Louisiana.
The Winn Parish grand jury also indicted former Winnfield police officer Scott Nugent on a charge of malfeasance in office stemming from the Jan. 17 death of 21-year-old Baron Pikes.
Pikes was shocked nine times with a 50,000-volt Taser as he was arrested on a drug possession warrant in January, authorities said.
Winn Parish District Attorney Chris Nevils said Nugent broke the law when he "unnecessarily" used the Taser on Pikes multiple times and failed to get him medical attention "when it was apparent he needed it."
"In a civilized society, abuse by those who are given great authority cannot be tolerated," said Nevils in a statement.
Nugent, who is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 21, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the manslaughter charge. The malfeasance charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Nugent was fired but is appealing his dismissal. Phillip Terrell, Nugent's lawyer, has said his client followed department protocols and didn't use excessive force.
After the panel's decision, Terrell said the grand jury has only heard the prosecutors' side of the story. "It now comes time for us to be able to present our side of the story," he said.
The parish's coroner, Dr. Randolph Williams, ruled in June that Pikes' death was a homicide. Williams said he consulted with two other coroners, and both agreed that Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the Taser shocks.
On Monday, the mother of Pikes' 4-year-old son filed a wrongful-death suit in federal court against city officials, Nugent and Taser International. The suit accuses city officials of civil rights violations in Pikes' death.