At 1:28 p.m. on Jan. 17, Baron “Scooter” Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead. What happened in the 39 minutes in between — during which Pikes was handcuffed by police and shocked nine times with a Taser while reportedly pleading for mercy — is spawning suspicions of a political cover-up in this lumber town infamous for backroom dealings, reports the Los Angeles Times. Racial tensions also are mounting; Pikes was black and the officer involved is white.
No novelist could have invented Winnfield, 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 pardoned by then-Gov. Edwin Edwards, who is in federal prison for corruption convictions. All that history is wrapped up in the Pikes case because the officer in question, Scott Nugent, is the son of the former chief who killed himself and the protege of the current chief, who hired him.