Thursday, October 02, 2008


Tragedy on tragedy in Brooklyn neighborhood

by Larry Geller

A couple of days ago I wrote, Brooklyn cops tase and kill a mentally ill man.

You’ll recall:

Police fired a Taser at a naked Brooklyn man armed with only a fluorescent light tube yesterday, sending him falling to his death from a second-floor ledge after he went on a 40-minute rant.

When sorrows come, they come not single spies But in battalions.
--King Claudius, Hamlet, Act IV, scene v.
The man’s mother had called the police for assistance, but in the end, they killed him.
I had just listened to last night's WBAI (New York) news, which included a report of a community rally at the site where the man was tased and died. Many interviewed were upset that no charges have been filed against any police for the death, and that police have not educated themselves over how to respond to people in mental difficulties. I thought it would be worth writing about the rally. Then came the distraction of the vice presidential debate, and now this, just in:
Lieutenant [Michael W.] Pigott, apparently distraught because he had authorized the Taser shooting last week of an emotionally disturbed man who pitched headlong to his death from a second-story building ledge, fatally shot himself on Thursday at the headquarters of the Emergency Services Unit in Brooklyn, the police said.
. . .
Lieutenant Pigott’s death came on his 46th birthday and only hours before the funeral of Iman Morales, 35, who died in the confrontation with officers in Brooklyn. It also came days after the lieutenant had publicly apologized and received departmental counseling for his own emotional distress over ordering the use of the Taser in what police officials called a violation of department guidelines. The case is being investigated by the police and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

On the afternoon of Sept. 24, Mr. Morales, naked, ranting and swinging an eight-foot-long fluorescent light bulb at officers, tumbled to his death from a ledge atop a storefront security gate outside his building at 489 Tompkins Avenue, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, after Officer Nicholas Marchesona, on orders from Lieutenant Pigott, fired a Taser that immobilized him. He hit the pavement and suffered a fatal head injury. Officers had called for an inflatable cushion, but it did not arrive in time.

This is now a double tragedy. Let us not forget the role of the Taser in the deaths of two men who should still have been alive today.

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