Saturday, April 25, 2009
Cop Kills Self Over Taser Death of Distraught Man
A New York Police Department lieutenant apparently committed suicide today, days after he ordered another officer to fire a stun gun at a naked, distraught man who then fell to his death, police said.
Lt. Michael Pigott was found in a police locker room at a former airfield in Brooklyn, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for public information.
The lieutenant had ordered another officer, Nicholas Marchesona of Staten Island, to shock Inman Morales, who fell nearly 10 feet to death in Brooklyn.
"On behalf of all the members of the New York Police Department, I extend deepest condolence to the family and friends of Lt. Michael W. Pigott, who served with dedication after 21 years," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement.
Pigott had been stripped of his gun and badge and reassigned to desk duty after a Sept. 24 incident in which police responding to a report of an emotionally disturbed man fired a Taser stun gun at Iman Morales, causing him to fall 10 feet off a ledge.
After the incident, Kelly ordered refresher training for the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit on how to deal with the mentally ill and appointed a new commander of the unit.
The body of the lieutenant, whose 46th birthday was today, was found by police around 6 a.m. at the emergency unit's headquarters at Floyd Bennett Field, where training was held Monday. He used a weapon that was not his, police said.
Yesterday, as the Morales family was holding a wake for the victim, Pigott apologized for what happened, saying he was "truly sorry."
In the incident last week, witnesses and neighbors said Morales had become distraught and threatened to kill himself. His mother called 911. When police arrived, he fled naked out the window of his third-floor apartment to the fire escape. He tried unsuccessfully to get into an apartment on the floor above, and then climbed down until he reached a ledge over a shuttered storefront, where he started jabbing at officers with an 8-foot-long fluorescent light.
Pigott ordered Marchesona to fire the Taser. The 50,000-volt shock immobilized the 35-year-old Morales, who then toppled from his perch. He plunged headfirst to the ground and suffered fatal injuries. Officers had radioed for an inflatable bag as the incident unfolded, but it had not yet arrived at the scene when Morales fell.