Oct 22, 2010 9:30 PM by Alison Haynes
WINNFIELD, La. (AP) - Minutes after a doctor testified that he believed a combination of medical conditions made worse by repeated shocks from a Taser stun gun caused the death of Baron Pikes, the jury watched a video of the dying man writhing on the police station floor.
Scott Nugent is on trial for manslaughter in Pikes' death. Pikes was shocked eight or nine times while his hands were cuffed behind him.
The video, which defense lawyers tried to have suppressed, was shot by Nugent. It showed two officers haul Pikes, also known as Baron Collins Jr., with the handcuffs removed, into a chair. Pikes immediately slid to the floor.
"I wish we had a cart, we could hall him to the hole," an unidentified man - not Nugent - said. "Let him stay in the hole until he gets over this mess."
Despite repeated urging to get up, Pikes seems unable to lift himself with his arms. He rolls from his stomach to his back several times, mumbling.
In his statement to investigators, Nugent quoted Pikes assaying, "You're going to be sorry for what you did to me." On the tape Nugent can be heard saying, "Is that a threat?"
The unidentified man says several times that he wishes they could get Pikes to "the hole." And another time says they should "drag his ass out into the hall," so paramedics that have been called can work on him there.
Jurors stared at the video, most with looks of horror on their faces. One woman covered her mouth with her hand.
Dr. Harry R. Hawthorne, cardiac specialist from Alexandria, La., said that after studying the autopsy he believed that several conditions, including high blood pressure made higher by the shocks, led to Pikes death.
Hawthrone described a process in which Pikes' blood pressure, heartbeat and adrenaline all rose as the stun gun was used repeatedly. At some point Pikes' lungs began to fill with liquid and he lost control of his limbs, Hawthorne said.
Under cross-examination by Jerry Glas, one of Nugent's attorneys, Hawthorne acknowledged he had no way of knowing how high Pikes' blood pressure was at any point during the ordeal. But Hawthorne denied that running from police would have increased the blood pressure to the danger level.
"The sprint he made would raise his blood pressure and his heart beat, but not enough to cause that condition at that point," Hawthorne said.
Earlier Friday, Dr. Michael Baden, a well known forensic pathologist, said he blamed the repeated shocks for Pikes' death.
Baden said it was not necessarily the electricity from the Taser that stopped Pikes' heart, but the other conditions the shocks created in Pikes' body that led to his death.
Glas worked to discredit Baden, asking about his qualifications as an expert on electricity and on the Taser.
Glas ticked off a number of areas in which Baden acknowledged his lack of expertise, including the Taser that Nugent used. Glas also asked Baden if he knew the path the electricity from the stun gun would have taken through Pikes' body, and whether the shocks had been administered by the probes the Taser fires or by a process called "drive stuns." Glas told the jury in opening statements that the drive stun was more painful than the probe shock, but administered less electrical current to a body.
Baden admitted he had not differentiated between the two shocks.
"He was healthy, he was tased, he died," Baden said. "There's no other reason for it."