An NYPD lieutenant who committed suicide was treated by his superiors as if he had done something wrong and was afraid he might be prosecuted for ordering officers to use a stun gun on a man who fell to his death, the lieutenant's widow said Monday.
"They ripped his heart out," Susan Pigott said of her husband, Michael. "He was treated so unfairly."
Her attorney has filed notice he intends to sue the city, NYPD and department brass over the death, saying disciplinary action against him caused "extreme emotional anguish, humiliation, depression, fear and shame."
The highly decorated officer with the NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit killed himself in October 2008, eight days after ordering the use of the stun gun during a Brooklyn standoff with an emotionally disturbed man.
Iman Morales, 35, was waving a large fluorescent bulb after running naked from his apartment onto a fire escape when Pigott gave the order to have the man subdued with a stun gun. Morales fell 10 feet to the ground and died; his family is also suing the city.
After the episode, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered refresher training for the Emergency Services Unit on how to deal with the mentally ill, and appointed a new commander of the unit.
Pigott was stripped of his gun and badge and assigned to a job with the department's motor vehicle fleet _ a huge demotion for a 21-year veteran assigned to such an elite team. The married father of two sons and a daughter apparently found a colleague's weapon in a police locker room and shot himself in the head on his 46th birthday.
"Michael was a dedicated police officer doing his job that day," Susan Pigott said. "He was there to protect and serve the community and unfortunately the outcome was a tragic event. He was just so upset."
The department did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the legal action.