In 2010, Mark Moody, a lawyer in New York City had a bad habit. He was a smoker and liked his nicotine. However, he was conscious enough of the foul smell of cigarette smoke that he did not smoke inside of his own apartment. Instead, he would sit on the sill of his apartment window when he wanted to smoke. On one day, Mark was sitting on the sill with his cigarette in one hand and his phone in the other. By all accounts, it was a normal day.
Here They Come to Save the Day
Until a police cruiser rolled up and two members of the NYPD—or perhaps the Keystone Cops—jumped out and shouted up at him. These cops were worried about Mark’s safety, and one of them asked if he was about to commit suicide. At first blush, this story may seem like these two heroic cops were trying to help someone they thought was in a bad state. However, Mark lived on the second floor and his sill was a whopping 12 feet off the ground.
Mark told them that if he were going to commit suicide, this would be a dumb place to do it. He told them if he jumped from there, he would just sprain his ankle.
The officers were not deterred, and then never told Mark why they were worried about his safety. Instead, they told him that he needed to come downstairs. He responded with a refusal and told the cops that the reason he was sitting on the window was so he wouldn’t get smoke in the apartment. Mark then saw a cab driver that he knew and waved him over to let the police know that this was where he always smoked.
Even before the cabby could get over to the police, a host of other vehicles arrived including four more patrol cars and three ambulances. The entire scene must have seemed absurd to Mark, who said that before he realized it, one of the officers had busted into his apartment, grabbed hold of him, ripped him from the windowsill, and threw him onto the ground. The next thing Mark knew, he had the cop kneeling on top of him and putting him in handcuffs.
The “hero” cops, somehow believing they had done the right thing, put him into the back of a patrol vehicle and took him to the hospital for a psychological hold and evaluation. When the on-duty psychiatrist learned what had happened, he apologized to Mark and discharged him right away.
What Were the Cops Thinking?
It’s hard to tell the truth of the matter. According to a spokesperson for the NYPD, the police were responding to a 911 call of an emotionally disturbed man that was on the ledge of a window. When they arrived, they saw Mark on the ledge of the window and took action. It’s a strange story all around.
Mark, being an attorney, took the city to court. He sued the city and the police officers for $400,000. The city ended up settling, providing him $45,001. Even after the hubbub, Moody continued to smoke on his sill.
While it’s admirable that the police work to help people that may be considering suicide and who want to harm themselves, this case is on the weird side. He was not doing anything illegal or dangerous, he’d done it countless times before, and he was only a few feet off the ground, so jumping wouldn’t have killed him. He was also calm and rational when he spoke to the police. The escalation seemed unwarranted.