The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A naked, distraught man fell to his death from a Brooklyn building's ledge after a police officer shocked him with a Taser stun gun, authorities said.
Iman Morales, 35, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead after his nearly 10-foot fall Wednesday in the Bedford-Stuyvesent section. Police said he suffered serious head trauma.
The death of the man, who witnesses and neighbors said had become distraught and had threatened to kill himself earlier in the day, brought renewed focus to the use of Tasers by the Police Department.
It also raised questions over why Morales was shocked with the stun gun when there was no inflatable bag placed on the sidewalk to catch him as he fell.
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"They didn't try to brace his fall. They did nothing. I've seen a lot of things in my time. But what they did was wrong," said neighbor Kirk Giddens, 39, in Thursday editions of the Daily News.
In a video posted on the Web site of the New York Post, Morales can be seen clambering along a building's fire escape until he reaches a ledge over a shuttered storefront, where he begins swinging a fluorescent light several feet long at officers below. One of the officers raises a Taser at Morales, who freezes and topples over headfirst.
Police spokesman Paul J. Browne told the New York Times that Morales' death was under investigation. He said that officers will routinely request an inflatable bag to break the fall of someone threatening to jump. But he said that Morales was about 10 feet from the sidewalk and that it was unclear whether the bag had been requested or whether it had not yet arrived at the scene.
Officers are allowed to use Tasers if they believe a psychologically distressed people are a danger to themselves or to others, police said.
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Thousands of city police sergeants began carrying Tasers on their belts this year. The pistol-shaped weapons fire barbs up to 35 feet and deliver 50,000-volt shocks to immobilize people.