A break in the political action to to report on yet another example of our police state, this time from my old stomping grounds in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. There is no reason for this to have gone down this way.

Racquel McDonald was standing on Tompkins Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, unknowingly recording the last moments of Iam Morales’ life on her cell phone.

Dozens of people witnessed it, too. Some were taking photos of Morales as he jumped up and down on top of a 10-foot high roll-down gate, swinging a florescent light bulb around and poking officers standing on a nearby fire escape. An officer on the ground then raised his Taser gun and fired a 50,000-volt shock, immobilizing him.

“He wasn’t hurting anybody. They could have just grabbed him and bring him down but they Tasered him instead and he fell to his death and it was real wrong,” McDonald said.

Added a witness named “Kyle:” “The man was isolated for minute … and then he just fell to the floor. They had about eight cops that could’ve break the fall. They just moved back.”

Witnesses said police did nothing to break Morales’ fall, and his mother was standing just a few yards away. She was the one who called police, according to family friends, because 35-year-old Morales had a chemical imbalance and she believed he was suffering from a bad reaction to new medication. “The mother was screaming, ‘He’s gonna fall!’ And they said, ‘Step back.’ They wouldn’t allow the mother to talk to him,” witness Charlene Gayle-Gordon said.

The New York Post has the video. It’s below the fold.

More from the NYT:

City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said in a telephone interview that the situation could have been handled better by the police.

“My first take is that while I’m sure there are no experts out there on how to handle a crazy naked man with a weapon on top of a ledge, I’m also sure this wasn’t the right way, ” Mr. Vallone said on Wednesday evening.

“A situation like that is never going to end in a good way,” Mr. Vallone said after watching the video. “The most important thing is that no innocent bystanders or police got hurt. But clearly, it could have been handled better.”

Mr. Vallone said a public hearing on the department’s use of Tasers might be needed to fine-tune its policy on using them.

The use of Tasers in New York has a troubled history. In the early 1980s, the police were condemned for using them to force drug suspects to confess. Mr. Kelly, then a deputy inspector, was assigned to reform the police practices.

…”His mother called 911,” said Sharonnie Perry, a community advocate who lives down the street. “She called for assistance and the assistance she got was her son being killed.”

UPDATE: This time, someone on the police force may actually be held accountable.

Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, New York City Police Department notes that none of the “officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so.”

“The order to employ the Taser under these circumstances appears to have violated guidelines, re-issued June 4, 2008, which specifically state that ‘when possible, the CED should not be used…in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface,'” the statement continues.

“The lieutenant who directed the use of the Taser has been placed on modified assignment,” Browne writes. “The officer has been assigned to administrative duties. The Brooklyn District Attorney has asked that neither officer be interviewed by the Police Department as the investigation into this incident continues.”


* The Blend Taser files

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding