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Louisiana taser death case may receive Court review

BY Mark Sherman Associated Press

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.

Over 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 after 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 come as soon as today.

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.

Taser International says that its stun guns are a safe, nonlethal alternative to firearms and that they have prevented 124,000 deaths or serious injuries.

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