CNN | July 23, 2008

WINNFIELD, Louisiana (CNN) — A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.

He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner’s report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead.

Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes’ January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide.

Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered.

Williams ruled Pikes’ death a homicide in June after extensive study.

Winn Parish District Attorney Christopher Nevils said he will decide on any charges against the ex-officer, Scott Nugent, once a Louisiana State Police report on the case is complete.

“It’s taken several months for this case to even be properly addressed, so one has to wonder, why did it take so long?” said Carol Powell Lexing, a lawyer for the Pikes family. “Obviously, a wrongful death occurred.”

Nugent’s lawyer, Phillip Terrell, said his client followed proper procedure to subdue a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds. But Williams said Pikes was already handcuffed and on the ground when first hit with the Taser, after the 247-pound suspect was slow to follow police orders to get up.

Winnfield, a sleepy lumber town about 100 miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, is best known as the birthplace of legendary Louisiana governors Huey and Earl Long. It’s also about 45 miles northwest of Jena, Louisiana, where a racially charged assault case sparked a September 2007 demonstration by an estimated 15,000 people.

One of the teenage defendants in that case, Mychal Bell, is Pikes’ first cousin — and his lawyer was Powell Lexing.

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