NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The family of a young girl from Brooklyn who died of an asthma attack was demanding changes in the wake of her death.
Briana Ojeda, 11, died on August 27th. Her mother tried to rush her to the hospital, but was stopped by Officer Alfonso Mendez.
He said he didn’t know CPR, though officers receive training.
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.
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.
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.
Brianna’s parents were calling for a new law requiring officers to be re-certified in CPR annually. They also wanted officers to face charges for refusing to give medical assistance in emergencies.
In a brief and exclusive encounter with CBS 2HD, 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 was alone and he just, you know, he was scared.”
“He’s destroyed because…we have children too. What happened is tragic and I’m sorry for her loss,” Damaris Mendez said.
The morning funeral for Ojeda was held at St. Francis Xavier Church on September 1. 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.”