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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Taser Use in Man’s Death Broke Rules, Police Say

The firing of a Taser stun gun that led an emotionally disturbed man to fall from a Brooklyn building ledge to his death on Wednesday appeared to have violated departmental guidelines, the police said on Thursday.

The guidelines tell officers that when possible, the Taser, which fires barbs that deliver thousands of volts of electrical current, should not be used in situations when a person could fall from an elevated surface.

A law enforcement official identified the lieutenant who gave the order to use the Taser as Michael Pigott, a 21-year veteran of the force. He was placed on modified assignment without his gun and badge, and the officer who fired the weapon was put on administrative duty amid an investigation by the Police Department and the Brooklyn district attorney. The police declined to identify the officer.

Officers at the scene of the confrontation had called by radio for an inflatable bag as the events unfolded, but it had not yet arrived when the man, Iman Morales, 35, was struck with the device and fell, according to a statement by the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne.

“None of the E.S.U. officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so,” the statement said, referring to the elite police Emergency Service Unit. [Mark Godsey]

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