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NYPD suicide leads to lawsuit
A grieving widow of a decorated New York Police Lieutenant who committed suicide after a decision he made ended the life of an emotionally disturbed Bedford Stuyvesant resident is suing the city, claiming that the investigation into the incident drove him to take his own life.
Susan Pigott, widow of Lieutenant Michael Pigott, told reporters last week that she hopes the lawsuit will help clear her husband’s good name. No monetary compensation is being sought at this time.
Pigott led the NYPD Emergency Services Unit team dispatched to a call about an unhinged 35-year-old who had climbed up to the top of a roll down gate on a neighborhood store earlier this year.
Naked and unruly, the man, identified as Iman Morales, refused to come down and swung a florescent light bulb he was carrying at anyone who came near.
Pigott ordered another officer to use a taser gun on Morales, who, after being hit, pitched forward and landed on his head. Nothing had been put on the sidewalk to break the man’s fall.
Morales died at the scene.
But the ensuing investigation, prompted by media attention, led to another man’s death, Mrs. Pigott told the Associated Press.
Pigott alleges that her husband shot himself in the head sitting in his car in Floyd Bennett Field -- on his 46th birthday no less -- because he felt that he wouldn’t get a fair shake in the headline grabbing, racially charged investigation.
“Sorry for the mess,” Pigott wrote in his suicide note. “I was trying to protect my guys that day! ... I can’t bear to lose my family and go to jail.”
Mrs. Pigott said that in the days before he took his own life, her husband fretted on whether he would survive the investigation.
Once Morales died, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that Pigott had violated procedure by ordering his officer to taser someone on a raised platform.
Pigott was stripped of his gun and badge and sent to work at an NYPD motor pool, his wife said.
“He was thinking he was going to be prosecuted and the city wasn’t going to be backing us at all,” she told reporters.
Pigott killed himself before the investigation ended. He never spoke to a lawyer to learn what his legal options -- if any -- were, his wife said.
City attorneys are currently mulling over a response to the suit.
“While the loss of lives was clearly tragic, we are unable to comment any further due to the pending litigation,” a spokesperson said.
Paid for year in pen
One year in jail: $340,000.
That’s how much the city has agreed to pay Ozem Goldwire, an autistic Brooklyn man who spent a year in jail after being bullied into a murder confession.
The deal, which was hammered out with Ozem Goldwire’s attorneys, was ratified in Brooklyn federal court last week.
Attorneys called it a vindication for the arrest and year-long incarceration after being accused of killing his sister in 2006.
Charges against Goldwire were dropped after prosecutors learned that detectives had tricked Goldwire into making his confession.
His attorneys said that detectives grilled Goldwire for 21 hours. They then told him that they would only let him leave if he signed the confession.
Goldwire was released from prison late last year. As of this writing, no one has been arrested in his sister’s murder.
When they appear in Brooklyn Federal Court this week, three Illinois judges will be finding themselves not behind the bench, but next to it.
They’ll be sitting in the witness stand, helping prosecutors in the trial against blogger and radio sleeze-J Hal Turner.
Opening arguments in the case began Tuesday.
Turner, a self-proclaimed white nationalist and white supremacist has been charged with encouraging his listeners to take up arms against the three Chicago United States Court of Appeals jurists who upheld ordinances banning handguns there.
Turner allegedly wrote on his blog that the judges deserved to be killed. He also put the photos of the judges on his web site, claiming that “their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.”
Because of the incendiary nature of the charges, Turner’s case was ordered held in a different venue: Brooklyn.
Turner’s attorney attests that all of his client’s conservative and racist bluster was part of his ongoing role as double agent and whistle-blower.
Besides being protected by the First Amendment, Turner, a former FBI snitch who was considered a valuable source of information when his rantings would open avenues to the country’s right wing lunatic fringe, believed he was in the clear because the FBI had encouraged similar diatribes when he was working for them, his attorney alleges.
Turner faces ten years in prison if convicted.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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