Inman Morales had a history of mental health problems. His mother, Olga Negron, was scared for his life when she called 911, saying her son was threatening to hurt himself and had stopped taking his medication. Unfortunately, the intervention of the police had catastrophic consequences.
Officers arrived at Morales' apartment at around 2PM and the victim, displaying clear signs of mental disturbance, fled immediately. One neighbor told the Daily News that he heard Morales say, "You're gonna kill me!" He climbed naked out of the window onto the firescape of his apartment building. After Morales brandished a big fluorescent light bulb, officers on the ground shot him with a taser, causing Morales to fall 10 feet to his death. Tasers have been used by the NYPD since 1984 and there have been recommendations that the NYPD expand taser use as an alternative to more lethal methods. But are they really any safer than traditional fire arms? Inman Morales is the second fatality of stun guns used by NYPD officers in 2 years.
Ernestine Croom, a witness, said, "When they tasered him, he froze and pitched forward. He fell on his head, they didn't put out a mattress or a net or anything." Officers failed to provide any protection to break Morales' fall before shooting him with the taser, an airbag was en route to the site as he hit the ground.
Negron is besides herself with grief saying, "They could have done something better to protect my son, he didn't have a gun, a knife or any weapon. He was just sick."
Morales had been diagnosed as bipolar and suffered from paranoid delusions. "They said, 'Don't worry. We'll take care of him.'" Negron added.
NYPD regulations ban the use of tasers when the victim may fall. The officers involved in the incident are currently being investigated. The lieutenant who ordered the tasering has been stripped of his badge and gun, while the officer who actually fired the taser has been relegated to desk duty. Ingrid Negron is calling for both officers to be thrown off the force and plans on pressing charges.
UPDATE: Police Lt. Michael Pigott committed suicide shortly before 6AM this morning. His body was found by a fellow police officer in the locker room of the Emergency Services Unit headquarters at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. "He was very distraught and upset about what had happened," a police source told the Daily News. "He had gone to the department's medical services and been told to take a few days off to rest up. But no one saw this coming. It is very tragic." Pigott turned 46 today. Inman Morales funeral is scheduled for later on this afternoon.
What do you think? The officers clearly showed poor judgment, but were they just doing their job or did they us excessive force? Are tasers a good alternative for more lethal weapons?