New York City police tasered an unstable, naked man on a ledge in Brooklyn who was threatening suicide. The tasering resulted in the man, 35-year-old Inman Morales, falling about 10 feet to his death.
The medical examiners office stated that the autopsy was inconclusive and further investigation would be required to determine the exact cause of death.
However, it is clear in the video that Morales fell with his head hitting the pavement, and police have confirmed that he did suffer serious trauma to his head.
The police officer who performed the actual tasering of Morales has been placed on desk duty, which is customary in this type of situation. But the supervising lieutenant who ordered that Morales be Tasered has been stripped of his gun and his badge, which is not customary.
New York City police department guidelines require that a taser not be deployed when the tasering could result in significant injury to the subject upon falling, if he is high on a ledge, for example.
Chief department spokesman Paul Browne confirmed this when he said that police guidelines specifically state that the Tasers “should not be used … in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface.”
The police did have several other options in this case. They could have waited for an inflatable bag to arrive at the scene. Police confirmed that they had radioed for a bag to be brought to the scene, but it had not arrived yet at the time of the tasering.
If Morales had fallen onto the inflatable bag, he would probably still be alive. For some reason the police did not wait for the bag to arrive.
Or the officers could have attempted to break the man’s fall themselves. Spokesman Paul Browne said, “None of the … officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so.”
Witnesses said Morales became distraught threatening to kill himself, so his mother called 911. It was not until police arrived that he fled naked out the apartment window to the fire escape and eventually to the ledge you see in the video.
The first video is amateur raw footage of the incident taken with a cell phone by a bystander. The video portrays semi-graphic violence, so do not watch if you feel that it may offend you:
The second video is a report of the incident by a local TV station and also portrays graphic violence:
Thus far in 2008, NYC police have used stun guns 180 times, with no other resulting deaths until this incident. However, it is still difficult to understand why police were so intent on rushing to use their taser this time.