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NEW YORK -- An NYPD lieutenant who gave the order for a Taser to be used on a naked Brooklyn man who then fell to his death, said yesterday he was sorry.
"I am truly sorry for what happened to Mr. Morales," said Lt. Michael Pigot of Sayville, referring to Iman Morales, 35, a psychiatric patient. Pigot is one of two officers disciplined by NYPD commanders for violating Taser-use guidelines.
Pigot, 45, spoke to a reporter outside his home yesterday. "I feel terrible about what happened to the man," he said.
Morales died last week after he held Emergency Services officers at bay for 20 minutes, standing on a vacant storefront's security gate container below a fire escape, and swinging a fluorescent lightbulb.
An officer shot Morales with a Taser, causing his body to stiffen and fall head first 10 feet to the ground.
When asked if he wanted to give his version of events, Pigot said he couldn't talk about it.
"I've been a police officer for 21 years," Pigot said. "And I loved being with the Emergency Services Unit."
Police brass have conceded that the Taser, which sends 5,000 volts of electricity through its target, should not have been used until air bags were beneath the fire escape.
Pigot's gun and badge were taken away and he was placed on modified duty. The officer who used the Taser, Nicholas Marchesona, was placed on desk duty. The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD are investigating.
Deputy Chief James Molly was named to head the ESU, replacing Deputy Insp. Robert Lukach. Commissioner Ray Kelly said he wanted someone with a higher rank in charge.
All 400 ESU officers were ordered to receive training to "re-emphasize" the training that they received in Taser use.
At Morales' wake yesterday, his mother said she still hasn't come to grips with how he died. "I'm in a very deep pain," Olga Negron said.
"He was a good son. There was no reason to do what they did," Negron she said. "He was sick. He was on medication."
At the Greenwich Village Funeral Home, where 50 or so mourners gathered, family friend Paul Hernandez said, "There's a lot of anger in there. ... Why did they have to shoot him like a dog?"
Morales was depressed and suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, his family said. Negron said she went to his home the day he died to go with him to an appointment. When she arrived, she said, her son "didn't even recognize me." She said he seemed convinced that people wanted him dead and vowed to kill those who did.
"The police, they didn't listen to me," said Negron, who said police wouldn't let her talk to her son. "They said, 'We're taking care of it.'"