Michael Pigott Commits Suicide
Posted by shadmia on October 3, 2008
Lt. Michael W. Pigott, 46, a 21-year veteran of the NYPD committed suicide on Thursday Oct. 2, 2008 (his birthday). He leaves behind his wife, Susan, two sons and a daughter. He was the police officer who gave the order to taser Iman Morales, 35, who subsequently fell 10ft off the ledge of his apartment building and died. See the details here. and Learn more about Iman Morales here.
Following Morales’ death, 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 who headed the elite team known as the Emergency Services Unit (ESU). Police Officer Nicholas Marchesona, 37, the officer who tasered Morales on orders from Pigott, was also disciplined. He was reassigned to desk duty but was not stripped of his gun and badge. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office and the police department are both investigating the incident.
The episode also casts the spotlight on the NYPD’s emergency services unit, a team of officers who deal with dozens of hostile scenarios every day, such as hostage situations, suicidal suspects, building collapses and hazardous materials threats.
“These guys are the best of the best, they really are,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “When people need help, they call the police, and when police need help, they call the ESU.”
Both Pigott and Marchesona were ordered to undergo counseling. Pigott was remorseful and distraught. He apologized directly to Morales’ family saying he was truly sorry for what had happened.
“I am truly sorry for what happened to Mr. Morales,” Pigott had said. “I feel terrible about what happened to the man.”
He would not discuss the incident, but suggested his career would never be the same.
“I’ve been a police officer for 21 years,” Pigott said. “And I loved being with the Emergency Services Unit.”
On Thursday, Oct. 2, the morning of Morales’ funeral, Pigott went alone to Floyd Bennett Field, the headquarters of the police Emergency Services unit, in Brooklyn, took a 9-mm Glock from another officer’s locker (having been relieved of his own weapon) and committed suicide.
Nearby was a photo of his wife and children and a note. He didn’t want his family to see him get arrested, according to sources familiar with the note, and he didn’t want anyone to blame Officer Nicholas Marchesano, who fired the Taser at Morales on his order.
Marchesano, who has been on desk duty since the incident, could not be reached Thursday. A police officer posted outside his Staten Island home said no one from the family wanted to talk to reporters.
Reactions to Michael Pigott’s Suicide
“The lieutenant was deeply distraught and extremely remorseful over the death of Iman Morales in Brooklyn last week,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said at a City Hall news conference. “Sadly, his death just compounds the tragedy of the loss of Mr. Morales.”
“On behalf of all of the members of the New York City Police Department, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lt. Michael W. Pigott, who served with dedication for 21 years,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“Lt. Pigott was an outstanding member of that unit who was called upon to make a split second decision which had a tragic result. Contrary to many accounts, that decision did indeed weigh very heavily on him,” Thomas R. Sullivan, president of the Lieutenants’ Benevolent Association, said in a prepared statement. “It’s worth remembering that our police officers are not supermen but rather flesh and blood human beings who deal with life and death situations that most of us cannot even imagine on a daily basis.”
“It’s horrible,” Morales’ aunt, Ann DeJesus Negron, said after Morales’ funeral at Our Lady of Pompeii Church. “This is not the justice we want. This really disturbs the whole family. This is not something we would want anyone to go through.” She continued, “I’m sure he was asking for forgiveness,” she said. “And I’m sure that Iman would want us to forgive.” And, referring to the lieutenant’s family, she added, “I just wish that they find peace and healing and trust in life again.”
“Not your typical police officer,” said Jon O’Shaughnessy, a New York City fire marshal and an old friend. “That’s why he was a lieutenant. He was a very positive, upbeat guy. He could have retired last year.” The friend could say no more: His voice broke, and he began to cry.
Lt. Michael Pigott’s Biography
Lt. Michael Pigott earned a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics from Dowling College and joined the Police Department in 1987 after failing, because of a hearing problem, to become an Air Force pilot. He did become a licensed civilian pilot, however, as well as a motor boat operator. His police work included many years as an officer and a sergeant assigned to the 73rd and 81st precincts in Brooklyn and the 103rd Precinct in Queens.
He joined the Emergency Services Unit, in 2002, whose officers face a wide range of challenges, including rescuing window-washers dangling outside towers and trying to talk people out of killing themselves. He was cited 11 times for excellent police duty and 9 other times for meritorious service.