'Taser tragedy' suicide
A Brooklyn judge has tossed a lawsuit filed by the widow of an NYPD lieutenant who committed suicide after giving an order that led to another man's death.
Susan Pigott sued the city, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, saying her husband, Lt. Michael Pigott, was subjected to the infliction of severe emotional distress in the aftermath of the 2008 death of Iman Morales, an emotionally disturbed man who was ranting and waving a fluorescent light tube on a window ledge in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Michael Pigott gave Emergency Service Unit cops the order to Taser Morales before air bags had been set up, sending Morales headfirst into the pavement.
Susan Pigott claimed NYPD higher-ups denounced her husband in the media, stripped him of his gun and shield and banished him to a desk job, while warning that he would be on his own if there were criminal charges or a civil suit.
Thoroughly demoralized, Michael Pigott shot himself in a police facility on his 46th birthday.
Susan Pigott filed suit in 2009, but Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash threw out the case last month in a decision published yesterday.
Ash said the claims for infliction of emotional distress require conduct that is "outrageous," "atrocious" or "utterly intolerable in a civilized community."
Ash said that even though she inferred that Michael Pigott was treated "insensitively and unfairly . . . particularly in light of the undoubtedly stressful and unquestionably tragic circumstances," she could not rule that the conduct was "so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency."
The judge also said that forcing Michael Pigott to "relinquish his firearm and badge, even if baseless . . . falls within the permissible discretion" of the NYPD.
She wrote that "even if unfair or unsupported," the assignment change would hardly constitute the "utterly reprehensible conduct" that would be needed to prove the case.
Susan Pigott could not be reached for comment and her lawyer didn't return a call for comment.
The city's Law Department said in a statement: "This was a tragic situation, but we believe the court ruled correctly."