Lt. Michael Pigott, 46, a 21-year New York City police officer, shot himself to death yesterday, apparently distraught because he had authorized the Taser shooting last week of an emotionally disturbed man who pitched headlong to his death from a second-story building ledge, the New Yrk Times reports. The lieutenant, who had been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty after the Taser incident, killed himself with a single shot to the head from a handgun taken from another officer's locker. A law enforcement official said Pigott may have believed that he might face charges in an inquiry and did not want to bring disgrace upon his family.
Pigott had publicly apologized and received departmental counseling for his own emotional distress over ordering the use of the Taser in what police officials called a violation of department guidelines. The suicide – one of about a half-dozen a year in the police department – underscored the intense pressures on emergency services officers, who confront as many as 80,000 emotionally disturbed people every year and often must make critical decisions in potentially deadly face-offs. “It is 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,” said Thomas Sullivan, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.