When two police officers happened upon 40-year-old trial lawyer Mark Moody smoking on his window ledge, they became concerned that he might be trying to harm himself.
Understand, they were not concerned that the plethora of carcinogens contained within the cigarette that he was smoking were injuring his lungs – and that his smoking might in fact cause him cancer. They were concerned about his immediate well-being. Window ledges are dangerous places and some people jump from them to commit suicide, that is what they thought that Mark was trying to do.
“Give the guys a break,” some would say, “they were only trying to help.” Here is the thing, Mark’s window ledge was a mere 3.5 meters above the ground – while jumping from such a height might cause injury, it isn’t really high enough to cause death, not unless you are really, really trying.
That is exactly what Mark tried to explain to the police:
If I was going to commit suicide, this would be a pretty dumb place to do it. If I jumped from here, I’d just sprain my ankle.
Mark was placed in handcuffs and taken to a downtown psychiatric ward by ambulance in spite of his verbal protestations and an attempt to summon a witness who had seen him smoke on his window ledge on numerous occasions.
The on-duty psychiatrist who was responsible for Mark’s evaluation quickly realized that the lawyer had not, in fact, been trying to end it all.
In Mark’s own words:
I talked to him for three minutes, and he said, ‘Look, I’m really sorry. I apologize on behalf of the city.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne offered the other side of the story:
Police responded to a 911 call of an emotionally disturbed person at the location. When police arrived, they observed the male sitting on the ledge talking erratically. Police Emergency Service officers were called, and the person was removed to the hospital for observation.
Now, while I do think that the two police officers involved were total buffoons, I can’t help but think that they were trapped between a rock and a hard place. Had Mark actually tried to kill himself, the NYPD would have been in hot water for failing to respond – now they are facing a $400,000 lawsuit because they ruined the guy’s cigarette break.
My advice to Mark, from a human perspective: drop the lawsuit man, just because you are a lawyer does not mean that you have to be an ass. Seriously, there was a time that something like that would make a good drinking story – it shouldn’t be an opportunity to enrich one’s self at the expense of a police department and ultimately the taxpayer. [News.com.au]