NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — After the funeral mass for 11-year-old Briana Ojeda, the horse-drawn carriage carrying her casket made one special stop before going to the cemetery — at her home in Boerum Hill.
Ojeda died following an asthma attack Friday in which an NYPD officer allegedly refused to offer assistance to the young girl’s mother, who was stopped on the way to the hospital.
CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reported neighbors turned the front steps of the girl’s home into a shrine. Her dogs were part of the farewell also. At the funeral parlor, David Aviles, and Anisia Perez — who were practically an uncle and aunt to the girl — said they were relieved that the NYPD suspended Officer Alfonso Mendez.
“We were asking God to vindicate her…do something for this child before she leaves, and He did,” Perez said.
The on-going NYPD internal investigation into whether an officer did enough to try to save her life made Wednesday an extremely difficult day for the 11-year-old girl’s family.
The morning funeral for Ojeda was held at St. Francis Xavier Church. The Park Slope church was filled with tears for little Briana whose casket was carried along 6th Avenue.
“This was tragic,” her teacher, Rebecca Rodan said, “She was too young to go.”
Briana’s father, Michael, cried as he read a poem that said, “Your love is still our guide, though we can not see you, you are always by our side.”
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs spent several days trying to identify the officer who allegedly failed to help a mother last week as her daughter suffered an asthma attack.
One of the reasons why the NYPD and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly were so upset is because it took four days to locate Officer Mendez. Many in the Department feel he should have turned himself in.
The five-year veteran of the NYPD, assigned to the 84th Precinct in downtown Brooklyn, was suspended without pay for thirty days for failing to report his involvement in the incident.
In a brief and exclusive encounter with CBS 2, Mendez wouldn’t say much, but his wife of nine years immediately came to his defense. “If he could have done more, he would have,” said Damaris Mendez.
“He’s destroyed because…we have children too. What happened is tragic and I’m sorry for her loss,” Damaris Mendez said.
She confirmed what Briana Ojeda’s family said from the very beginning — that a panicked Carmen Ojeda did in fact encounter a police officer as she tried to get her dying daughter to a nearby hospital.
“So he’s just standing there. My mother goes ‘Do you know CPR? Do you know CPR?’ At this point everybody’s frustrated and he, with a little smirk on his face, says ‘No. I don’t know CPR’,” said witness Eria Domenech.
“He was alone and he just, you know, he was scared,” Damaris Mendez said.
Carmen Ojeda said she got back in her car and continued driving, but it was too late. Briana was pronounced dead about an hour later at Long Island College Hospital.
“She’s the most beautiful baby a mother can have. And I’m going to miss my baby,” Ojeda said.
The NYPD does, in fact, train its officers in CPR, but they are not obligated by law to perform it. That is why this case remained an administrative and not a criminal investigation.