Guilt and Grief

I work in the Coal Industry, in the safety aspect of it, and I have seen instances of those in a position of authority who through inaction or misaction cause the death of someone, even several someones. The grief that they experience will generally lead them to suicide. Somewhere along the way, they cannot find the ability to seek forgiveness from either those that they harm, themselves, or even from God. I think about the women who have abortions, and the trauma that their body goes through, incomparable to the trauma of their mind and heart.

What of the sinner? Or the Christian who sins and instead of turning to God, continues to live unforgived because he deems himself unforgivable.

In the story below, we read of a police officer who committed a grave error – if the taking of a human life can be called an error – and forgetting that their may be forgiveness, decided to end his own life.

In college, I had a Religion and Sociology class. The topic of sin came up – specifically whether sin was instinct or results of community pressure (figuratively). The conversation soon centered around the idea that humanity had no instincts instilled in it, but adapted to life as each individual progressed. One of my fellow students spoke up saying that we have the instinct of survival. The professor countered with suicide. The student countered with the idea that too many times, the person who contemplates suicide (and/or goes through with it), is under so much pressure that the only avenue of survival is take his or her own life in hopes that the pain that is so often associated with life will cease.

Fortunately for us, we have a hope that is stronger than any sin we may have committed before salvation. Our Hope is in the redeeming Cross of Christ and His faithfulness in obedience. We must continue to pray and to seek out those that are hurting, forgetting not that the love of Christ is timeless and often times, just in time.

Police Lieutenant in Taser Case Commits Suicide –

A New York City police lieutenant who gave the order to fire a Taser stun gun at an emotionally disturbed man who then fell to his death in Brooklyn committed suicide early on Thursday, law enforcement officials said.

Lt. Michael W. Pigott, a 21-year veteran of the force, was found in a police locker room at a former airfield in Brooklyn, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, said Paul Browne, the police department’s deputy commissioner for public information.

He had been placed on modified assignment without his gun and badge after he gave the order to a sergeant to fire the Taser at a Bedford-Stuyvesant man, Iman Morales, on Sept. 24.

“The lieutenant was deeply distraught and extremely remorseful over the death of Iman Morales in Brooklyn last week,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a press conference. “Sadly, his death just compounds the tragedy of the loss of Mr. Morales.”

Mr. Morales, naked and with apparent signs of emotional disturbance, tumbled to his death from a second-story building ledge after an officer shot him with the Taser at the instruction of Lieutenant Pigott. Mr. Morales, 35, had been yelling at passers-by and swinging a long fluorescent light bulb at officers before he fell.

In the aftermath of Mr. Morales’s death, the department announced that the use of the Taser appeared to have violated departmental rules, and a new commander of the Emergency Service Unit was named. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also ordered refresher training for the unit on how to deal with the mentally ill.

Lieutenant Pigott killed himself on the morning of the funeral of Mr. Morales. About 40 people attended services Thursday morning at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Carmine Street in Manhattan before heading to a New Jersey cemetery for the burial.

“I’m sure he was asking for forgiveness,” Ann De Jesus Negron, Mr. Morales’s aunt, said of Lieutenant Pigott. “And I’m sure that Iman would want us to forgive.”

Lieutenant Pigott, 46, was a licensed pilot and motor boat operator. His assignments in the department over the past two decades included work as a sergeant in the precincts that covered Jamaica and Queens Village; in his early days on the force, he served as a police officer in Brownsville, police sources said.

He lived with his wife Susan, two sons and daughter in Sayville on Long Island, in a one-story house with brown siding and a neat patch of lawn in front. Suffolk County police officers gathered around the house Thursday morning, as relatives and friends arrived to express condolences.

On Tuesday, Lieutenant Pigott apologized for what happened, telling Newsday in an interview, “I am truly sorry for what happened to Mr. Morales.”

Mr. Browne said that Lieutenant Pigott went alone to the headquarters of the police Emergency Services unit, at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, early Thursday morning. He entered a locker room, where he gained access to a weapon that was not his: a 9-millimeter Glock. His body was discovered in the locker room by a member of the unit who was coming on duty at about 6 a.m.

The death of Mr. Morales drew heavy media attention in New York City and beyond, in part because much of the incident was captured in an amateur video that was posted on You Tube and shown on news Web sites and television broadcasts..

Morales, who lived at 489 Tompkins Avenue, was said by neighbors to be a quiet, polite tenant who paid his rent on time and kept his one-bedroom apartment clean. He was on public assistance, and was receiving medication for mental illness, the property manager, Charlene Gayle-Gordon, said in an interview.

In the days before his death, however, Mr. Morales became increasingly distraught. Neighbors said they heard him pacing in his apartment and shouting, though he was apparently alone.

Witnesses said Mr. Morales was extremely agitated as he climbed out the window of his third floor apartment to the fire escape just before 2 p.m. on the day of his death, police said.

“He was saying, ‘This neighborhood is gone to the dogs, it was fine before,’ ” said his upstairs neighbor, Eric Johnson, 27. “He said: ‘Why is everybody infatuated with superstars? Jay-Z is Beyonce.’ His information wasn’t making sense.”

After unsuccessfully trying to enter the apartment of a fourth-floor neighbor, he climbed down to the second-floor fire escape, and from there onto the top of a roll-down security gate, which was just over 10 feet above the sidewalk, police said.

As an Emergency Services officer climbed onto the fire escape, Mr. Morales jabbed at him with the eight-foot-long light bulb. Shortly afterward, Lieutenant Pigott gave the order to Officer Nicholas Marchesona to fire the Taser. Mr. Morales plunged head-first to the sidewalk. He was brought to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

While officers had radioed for an inflatable bag as the incident unfolded, it had not yet arrived at the scene when Mr. 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, the police said in a statement released the day after the incident.

Lieutenant Pigott’s order to employ the Taser appeared to have violated department guidelines, which state that “when possible, the should not be used . . . in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface,” the statement said.

The rule appears in a 10-page interim order issued by the Police Department in June. Emergency Services officers have been carrying Tasers for 24 years.

Following the death of Mr. Morales, Lieutenant Pigott had been placed on desk duty with Fleet Services, which handles the Police Department’s vehicles. Officer Marchesona was also placed on desk duty. Thursday was Lieutenant Pigott’s 46th birthday..

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