Video: Deadly incident

updated 9/25/2008 12:52:03 PM ET 2008-09-25T16:52:03

An officer may have violated police department guidelines when he used a Taser stun gun on a naked, distraught man teetering on a building ledge, officials said Thursday.

Inman Morales, 35, was pronounced dead at a hospital after his nearly 10-foot fall Wednesday. Police said he suffered serious head trauma when he hit the sidewalk.

Officers had radioed for an inflatable bag as the incident unfolded, but it had not yet arrived at the scene when Morales fell.

"None of the ... officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance to do so," chief department spokesman Paul Browne said.

The lieutenant who directed the use of the stun gun was stripped of his gun and badge, and the officer who shocked Morales was placed on desk duty as the investigation continues. Their names were not released.

Witnesses and neighbors said Morales had become distraught and threatened to kill himself earlier in the day. When police arrived in response to a 911 call, he fled naked out the window of his third-floor apartment, clambered down to a ledge and began jabbing at officers with an 8-foot-long fluorescent light.

An amateur video posted on the Web site of the New York Post shows one of the officers raising a stun gun at Morales, who freezes and topples over headfirst as the crowd screams.

The man’s death renewed focus on the use of stun guns by the NYPD. Thousands of city police sergeants began carrying Tasers on their belts this year after the department expanded use of the weapons. The pistol-shaped weapons fire barbs up to 35 feet and deliver 50,000-volt shocks to immobilize people.

Browne said guidelines specifically prohibit the use of stun guns when the subject may fall from an elevated surface.

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