Police Lieutenant in Taser Case Commits Suicide

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A followup to this tragedy:

A New York City police lieutenant who gave the order to fire a Taser stun gun at a man who then fell to his death in Brooklyn committed suicide at Floyd Bennett Field early on Thursday, law enforcement officials said. The lieutenant, Michael W. Pigott, a 21-year veteran of the force, 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.

Many would think that this is a great outcome. I disagree for two reasons.

First, while it is good that the person responsible felt bad for his actions, it is unfortunate that he decided to kill himself instead of make up for it. As a friend said about this, “killing yourself over remorse for wrongdoing is an inferior reaction to trying to make amends.”

The second, and perhaps more directly libertarian reason, is that the victim’s agents or heirs (in this case his mother, who was standing nearby when the murder occurred) now have less of a legitimate recourse against the criminal. Sure, they could sue the police department but even here, any “restitution” would be funded by tax payers, furthering aggression (and this is another problem created by the state: even winning cases against it often means further plundering society). Perhaps it would be better to also hold everyone involved guilty, and not just the lieutenant. There is plenty of guilt to go around. Do not send the cops to prison. Instead turn them over to their victims. Unarmed.As Rothbard correclty states,

“What happens nowadays is the following absurdity: A steals $15,000 from B. The government tracks down, tries, and convicts A, all at the expense of B, as one of the numerous taxpayers victimized in this process. Then, the government, instead of forcing A to repay B or to work at forced labor until that debt is paid, forces B, the victim, to pay taxes to support the criminal in prison for ten or twenty years’ time. Where in the world is the justice here? The victim not only loses his money, but pays more money besides for the dubious thrill of catching, convicting, and then supporting the criminal; and the criminal is still enslaved, but not to the good purpose of recompensing his victim.”

It’s tempting to want to use the statist system of “justice” against one of their own. However, a more correct approach would simply be, lacking market institutions to to this (thank you, state!), to let the victims, their heirs and/or agents privately handle justice against cop-murderers.

9:12 am on October 2, 2008