ShareThis Page
Nation

Supreme Court asked to review Taser death

| Sunday, May 18, 2014, 7:36 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Handcuffed but not obeying police commands, the 21-year-old suspect absorbed the first shot from a 50,000-volt stun gun as he lay on the ground.

During the next 14 minutes, a police officer used his Taser on Baron Pikes at least seven more times when Pikes did not follow orders.

Pikes began showing signs of distress a short time later as officers dragged him into the police department building in the central Louisiana town of Winnfield. A little over an hour later, on a January day in 2008, he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Supreme Court is being asked to review Pikes' case as part of a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of his young son against a former Winnfield police officer. If the justices agree to hear the case, it would be the court's first look at police use of stun guns after turning away appeals from both recipients of the high-voltage shocks and from police officers.

A decision on taking up the issue could be issued as soon as Monday.

Since 2001, stun guns have been listed as a cause or contributing factor in more than 60 deaths in the United States, according to the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International. More than 540 people have died after police use of stun guns in that time, the group said.

“Police departments using these weapons should limit their deployment only to situations which are life threatening or where there is the threat of serious injury,” said Rachel Ward, managing director of research for Amnesty International USA. “What we have now is such a piecemeal approach as to how these weapons are being deployed, when really what is needed is very strict national guidelines on their use.”

Taser International, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., says its stun guns are a safe, nonlethal alternative to firearms.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me