NYPD to retrain cops after taser death

October 2, 2008 10:24:27 AM PDT
Hundreds of New York City police officers will get refresher training on how to deal with emotionally disturbed people after a squad trying to help one distraught man wound up killing him by accident. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also appointed a new commander of the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit, which responds to many incidents involving the mentally ill.

ESU personnel already get advanced training in equipment, weapons and tactics, but all 440 officers in the unit have been directed to get a review course on the department's methods and policies for dealing with disturbed people.

The department's actions follow a deadly incident Wednesday, in which an officer used a Taser stun gun on a man who had climbed out on a building ledge.

The 50,000-volt shock immobilized Inman Morales, 35, and caused him to topple from his teetering perch. He plunged 10 feet, headfirst, and suffered fatal injuries.

Almost immediately, police said the use of the stun gun appeared to violate department guidelines, which explicitly bar their use "in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface."

No plan had been made to break Morales' fall. Police had initially been called to the scene by his mother, who said her son had threatened to kill himself. He had been trying to fend off officers with a long fluorescent light bulb when he was shot with the Taser.

The training sessions are to start Monday at a former airfield in Brooklyn. Officers will be retrained in both tactics and mental health law, the department said.

The new head of the Emergency Service Unit will be Deputy Chief James Molloy, a 26-year veteran of the department. The post had previously been held by an acting commander of lower rank.

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