Updated 08/17/2012 07:23 PM
Suit Against NYPD Officer Accused Of Refusing Care Postponed
A judge on Friday delayed a decision on whether family members of an 11-year-old girl who died after a city police officer allegedly refused to provide CPR to her can file a wrongful death suit. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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It's been nearly two years since 11-year-old Briana Ojeda died from an asthma attack while her mother, Carmen, pleaded with a police officer to help save the girl's life. Instead, she said, the cop tried to give her a ticket for driving the wrong way down a one-way street as she rushed to the hospital.
"I needed help, regardless of whatever they say," Carmen said. "I needed help. He denied me help. Then he ran. He was a coward."
Now, Briana's parents and supporters are hoping and praying a civil court judge will let them to sue that officer, Alfonzo Mendez, along with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD.
"My child is gone and this fight is something that is just so difficult and I wish this on no one," Carmen said. "But we can use this as a catalyst to move forward so no other parent can go through this."
Carmen Ojeda said Briana started having an asthma attack while playing in a Brooklyn park. She said when Officer Mendez pulled her over as she raced to the hospital, she asked him to give her daughter CPR. The heartbroken mother said the officer refused, saying he did not know how to.
That's not all. Bonita Zelman, the Ojeda family attorney, claimed Mendez tried to cover up his involvement after the little girl died. It took several days for the NYPD to figure out who the officer was.
"Officer Mendez then fled the hospital and changed his appearance, shaving his head," Zelman said.
In court, City Attorney Anshel David told the judge the city sympathizes with the family and although the case is tragic, there shouldn't be a lawsuit. He said the city didn't create any increased danger to Briana, that the danger was her asthma and her mother driving down a one-way street.
"The city attorney, it is outrageous for him to try and turn this around against the family," Zelman said. "The family lost their daughter because police officer Alfonso Mendez created a greater danger by impeding the mother's way to the hospital."
So should this case move forward or should it be tossed out? Judge Sylvia Ash says she'll give a written decision within 60 days.