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September 25th, 2008
03:47 PM ET

Taser death

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.nytaservictim2.jpg caption="New Yorker Inman Morales is surrounded by New York police officers before he was tasered and then fell to his death."]Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The police use of tasers to subdue a suspect is controversial. There have been incidents in the past where the jolt of electricity has led to death. However, police departments continue to say stun guns are an effective and safe alternative to lethal force.

But was it absolutely necessary to stun an emotionally disturbed man in New York this week? The video is disturbing, and it speaks volumes to what happened in Brooklyn yesterday. You can watch it here, but be warned the tape is extremely graphic, depicting a man’s final moments alive.

Inman Morales stands naked atop a security gate some ten feet above the sidewalk. He appears unstable, screaming at officers on the scene. Earlier, the mother of Morales reportedly called 911 because her son had become violent and threatening. After eluding police in the building and on the fire-escape, Morales stood perched on the security gate. He was holding what appeared to be a long light bulb tube.

This is what happens next: Police say a lieutenant ordered an officer standing on the sidewalk to taser Morales. After the gun is fired, Morales appears to freeze, standing still before falling head-first onto the ground. His head hits the pavement. One witness called it a death plunge. Morales died a few hours later at the hospital.

In a statement released today, the NYPD said the guidelines for the use of taser guns were violated and that the officers involved in the fatal confrontation have been placed on modified assignment and re-assigned. You can read the entire statement here.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Edward Wilkins

    The electricity of the taser didnt kill the guy...the fall did. SO limiting the tasers as one poster said is just stupid.

    And the "metal rod" he is swinging around is in reality a long light tube.

    Sure he could hurt someone with that thing...BUT seriously...are the cops so stupid as to think tasering someone on a ledge would be a good idea?

    These police officers were dumb, and killed a man.

    "That man wasn't hurting anyone"

    I cant believe someone is so dense as to right that...he was obviiously disturbed mentally due to drugs or some natural problem. He may not have been hurting anyone at that time, but obviously could have given the right scenario.

    The police were right to respond, but unfortunately responded like morons.

    September 26, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  2. Ray

    These cops are getting out of hand. These tasers are supposed to be used when necessary yet it seems like every time you turn around they've used them on someone. This guy was more of a hazard to himself than he was to any one else. Now they have to live with the fact that this man is dead and they contributed to that.

    September 26, 2008 at 7:47 am |
  3. steve

    electrocution is torture. watch rambo II. i wonder where i would be reassigned to if i kill somebody

    September 26, 2008 at 6:13 am |
  4. John

    Hey Jess, That was a light bulb not a steel rod. The officer could have just stepped back. After all he's a highly trained professional, right?. Paid to serve and protect? The victim obviously has some mental issues, NY police should be a little more sesitive and not try to kill, beat or stun people who need help.

    September 26, 2008 at 5:12 am |
  5. Camina T. in Arroyo Grande CA

    I am now wondering if the cops might not have tasered the dude if he had clothes on?

    September 26, 2008 at 2:35 am |
  6. Camina T. in Arroyo Grande CA

    Out here in a small town cops used similar excessive force to subdue a dude walking around naked at night. I think he should have been offered a blanket. Where was the social worker to talk this Brookyln guy down?

    September 26, 2008 at 2:19 am |
  7. Kevin in Jax

    It used to be that "less-than-lethal" weapons like the Taser were deployed strictly as an alternative to deadly force. More and more often, however, we see police officers using them as pain-compliance tools, or simply to assert their authority, or even for fun against suspects who are already under control. The American public has become largely inured to this sort of behavior, having grown up watching shows like COPS, which teach that anyone accosted by a police offier must have "had it coming."

    Until we wake up from our authoritarian trance and stop lionizing this sort of "kick-a** and take names" behavior on the part of our police, this country will continue its quiet descent into a full-fledged police state.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:08 am |
  8. Melissa S

    I am a co-worker of Mr. Morales. Though I did not know him well (he was very new at the job and I am in a slightly different area), my strong impression of him was that he was a sweet, perhaps slightly ineffectual and lost individual, completely incapable of harming anyone. I was shocked to come to work today to find that he was the vicitm of the violence that was all over the daily news. I'm sure he was undeserving of such a brutal fate.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:54 am |
  9. kevo

    It's one thing people need to understand when it comes to Law Enforcement. That is no one "deservers" to die regardless of what they do. No "REAL" human person enjoys taking a life. The fact is people need to think about their actions before they commit them. Every action results in a reaction positive or negative. Every time someone does wrong and police thinks about their safety and families, why are they the bad guys for making a decision? Police are not doctors to determine a medical condition in the heat of the moment. Being in public service we have to make life changing decision everyday. Do we want someone to loose their life? Absolutely not and for the people that believes otherwise than it's something seriously wrong. If criminals don't want bad things to happen to them, then just simply "THINK" before you act.

    September 25, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  10. Amanda

    It's ridiculous that cops are still allowed to use these things – they've proven time and time again that they abuse the use of them, and often use them in situations where this type of force is unwarranted. I used to work with behaviorally challenged individuals and there are so many ways to diffuse situations and restraint moves that can be used to get the person under control. Seems to me that when you become a cop you're supposed to learn how to diffuse situations with brain power and physical power instead of deadly force.

    Honestly, it seems that cops are just getting a bit lazy and probably on a slight power trip. There have been reports of cops using their tasers on people at parties, on themselves; and when they're on the clock I feel that they look for situations where they can use them.

    The cops in this case were obviously not properly trained and the lieutenant who ordered the officer to taser this individual should be fired. You can't taser someone who's standing on a ledge on the side of a building and not expect him to plummit to the ground. I'm pretty sure there are certain rules about tasering someone who's in an elevated position because of the fact that the volt of a taser makes you lose control of your body.

    Bottom line – if police forces all over the nation are going to be using these deadly weapons then they should use them only in situations where they are threatened with an equally deadly weapon.

    September 25, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  11. Rose

    This is a sad situation. The lieutenant that ordered the officer to do this should be relieved of duty, no pay, never allowed to work for any police department again. The office that did the tasing should be suspended for a period of time and made to complete sensitivity training. Seems that police officers have decided that using a taser is acceptable treatment. It is not, and needs to be discontinued.

    September 25, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  12. Alexandra

    Your guest is obviously biased. He's not a cop anymore, he's being paid to teach classes on the taser. Of course he's going to say they're safe. Why don't you bring in either an unbiased source or the opposing viewpoint like a criminal defense attorney?

    September 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  13. Jess

    I feel that just from the comments below, none of you have loved ones in law enforcement. i want to preface this by saying this is only my personal opinion– if you look at the imagines previous to him being tazzed- he is swinging around a metal rod- he was probably goign to be hitting the officer's on the ground as if they were golf balls, or the officer that was standing above him. Police do not use lethal force for fun– but when push comes to shove, and if it was my life or his– you best believe im goign to make it home that night to see my family. If he was truly so disturbed why didnt his friends or family get him help? it is not normal to hang on ledges in your birthday suit... it is a shame how some people are so negative towards police officers as murderers, but what if this person broke into your house in his pychotic state and attacked you- i bet you woudl be singing a different song.

    September 25, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  14. Diana

    No disrespect to the former police officer who has appeared as a guest in defense of the taser, but he's obviously wearing blinders or too far out of the loop to be in-the-know. Officers are using tasers far too often in too many situations where it is not required. My son's a police officer and I don't want him ever hurt on the job, but I would not advise him to use the taser when he has been trained on how to handle unruly individuals without the use of this type of force. The repeated statements that the taser doesn't inflict permanent harm is irrelevant. One of the most famous Supreme Court cases, Terry v. Ohio, discusses the negative result when public resentment is aroused when officers fail to act appropriately. It isn't about whether or not permanent injury is inflicted, it's about whether these officers are attempting to subdue someone they can't handle, using the taser to humiliate someone or just darn lazy.

    September 25, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  15. David

    Just what were they thinking? You have to be a total moron to not know that the guy was going to fall when they tasered him. They just couldn’t wait till the inflatable bag got there. I think charges should be brought up against both the lieutenant and the officer that fired the taser

    September 25, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  16. day

    Am I the only one concerned about children playing with a "new toy". How many people have to die before we take the toy away. In video after video the taser is used as "punishment" not as an alternative to lethal force. Police are tasing people they have already handuffed, people in chairs, it rediculous. Let's take the toys away.

    September 25, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  17. Surafel Melaku

    Why don't they limit the electric power? I don't understand, after we know it killes more than one person, we should have changed it, period!

    September 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  18. Marcus Portland, Oregon

    He was not hurting anybody... that really is upsetting.... Its like.. They need to really do something about those cops. I mean they could have waited for the man to come down 10 fricken feet for crying out loud.

    September 25, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  19. Kirk

    These cops should be prosecuted for manslaughter. If not, I think riots are appropriate.

    September 25, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  20. cb

    So typical of New York cops! They are murderers!!! especially if your
    a person of color..talk about mobsters...

    September 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm |