A lawyer who went for his usual cigarette break out of the first-floor window of his apartment was detained by police who mistakenly thought he was a suicidal jumper, according to a lawsuit.
Mark Moody was talking on his mobile phone and enjoying a smoke on the ledge when two policemen asked if he was trying to kill himself, even though he was just 12ft from the ground.
The 40-year-old said they were mistaken but the officers were undeterred, repeatedly asking questions as an ‘army’ of ambulances and emergency teams arrived.
An indignant Mr Moody refused to let the police into his flat but they apparently forced their way in anyway and allegedly dragged him out of the window sill and threw him on his front before handcuffing him.
The trial lawyer from New York was then taken to a psychiatric hospital, where medics immediately realised the error and apologised.
Mr Moody has now sued the New York Police Department for $40,000 in damages.
‘I wasn’t doing anything,’ he said. ‘Maybe it should be a crime to smoke a cigarette, but at the moment it’s not.’
Mr Moody had been smoking away on the window of his Peck Slip home on a warm August day when he caught the attention of the two policemen.
One allegedly asked: ‘Are you about to commit suicide?’
Mr Moody replied sarcastically: ‘If I was going to commit suicide, this would be a pretty dumb place to. If I jumped from here, I’d just sprain my ankle.’
The officers asked to be let into the apartment but Mr Moody refused.
He explained that he did not want to get smoke in the apartment and, to prove how normal it was for him to sit on the ledge for a puff, he waved to a taxi driver on the other side of the street.
Meanwhile, all around him a huge ‘rescue’ operation had swung into action – and before he knew it three ambulances and four other patrol cars had pulled up to save him from himself.
Soon afterwards the policemen got into his apartment and manhandled him to the floor before taking him to hospital, the lawsuit said.
When he arrived, on-duty psychiatrists almost immediately realised it had been a mistake and discharged him.
Mr Moody said: ‘I talked to him for three minutes, and he said, “Look, I’m really sorry. I apologise on behalf of the city”.’
Mr Moody later lodged his writ at Manhattan’s Federal Court.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said: ‘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.’
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