A naked and emotionally disturbed man who jabbed an eight-foot-long fluorescent light tube at a police officer fell three stories to his death in Brooklyn after police Tasered him, in violation of New York City Police Department guidelines on the use of the weapon. An investigation into the use of force has been opened by the Brooklyn District Attorney. One officer involved in the incident has been placed on desk duty and another placed on modified assignment.
What follows is the official NYPD statement on the tasering, and falling death, of Iman Morales.
On Wednesday, September 24 at approximately 1:50 PM, members of the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit responded to the report of an emotionally disturbed person at 489 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn. The individual, Inman Morales, fled out the window of his third-floor apartment to the fire escape. After unsuccessfully trying to enter the apartment of a fourth-floor neighbor from the fire escape, Morales fled to the second-floor fire escape, and from there onto the housing of a roll-down security gate, which was 10-feet, five inches from the sidewalk.
As an ESU officer was in the process of securing himself on the second-floor fire escape, Morales jabbed at him with an eight-foot long florescent light. An ESU lieutenant directed another ESU officer on the sidewalk to employ a Conducted Energy Device (CED), commonly known as a Taser, against Morales, who fell to the sidewalk, striking his head. He was removed to Kings County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
While officers had radioed for an inflatable bag as the incident unfolded, it had not yet arrived at the scene when Morales fell. None of the ESU officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so.
The order to employ the Taser under these circumstances appear to have violated guidelines, re-issued June 4, 2008, which specifically state that "when possible, the CED should not be used…in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface."
The lieutenant who directed the use of the Taser has been placed on modified assignment. The officer has been assigned to administrative duties. The Brooklyn District Attorney has asked that neither officer be interviewed by the Police Department as the investigation into this incident continues.