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An 84th Precinct cop was suspended without pay on Tuesday after apparently failing to assist an 11-year-old girl dying from an asthma attack as her panicked mother scrambled to get her to Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill.
Investigators confirmed on Wednesday that Police Officer Alfonso Mendez, a five-year veteran of the NYPD, had confronted mom Carmen Ojeda after she had sideswiped another vehicle near Kane and Henry streets in Carroll Gardens while driving the wrong way down a one-way street in a mad dash to get her choking daughter, Briana, to the Hicks Street medical center.
The frantic mother reportedly told the cop that her daughter had had an asthma attack while playing in Carroll Park and that she was trying to get her to the nearest hospital for treatment.
That’s when, according to Ojeda, Mendez claimed that he didn’t know CPR — even though all NYPD officers are trained in the life-saving technique at the police academy. Mendez then tried to give Ojeda a ticket for the car accident as her daughter gasped for air.
Ojeda continued to plead for help and Mendez ultimately escorted her to the hospital, but by then it was too late.
Briana, who was about to enter the sixth grade at St. Francis Xavier School on President Street in Park Slope, died in the emergency room.
Mendez left after escorting Ojeda to the hospital, prompting a brief search for the cop.
“He could have put my daughter in his car. He could have performed CPR,” an outraged Michael Ojeda, Briana’s father, told reporters this weekend. “I hope to see him one day so he can explain to me why.”
Hundreds of mourners, all dressed in white at Carmen Ojeda’s request, filled the St. Francis Xavier church on Wednesday. To the last, Briana was treated as a princess: Her coffin was brought to the cathedral in a horse-drawn carriage.
At first, NYPD officials claimed that the man in uniform who confronted Ojeda may not have been a cop. But by Monday, Mendez had been identified as the phantom officer as the search expanded to precincts neighboring Carroll Gardens.
Yet Mendez remembers the incident differently.
According to sources, he told Internal Affairs investigators that he had just finished gassing up his car at the 76th Precinct stationhouse on Union Street and was heading to Boerum Hill when he came across the car accident.
As he got closer, he noticed that someone was already performing CPR on Briana. The girl was also receiving oxygen from a tank that Ojeda always kept handy in the event of an attack.
He did confess to his claim about not knowing CPR, but said he didn’t need any prodding to escort Ojeda to the hospital.
“[Mendez] did what he could for Briana,” the officer’s family told reporters. Mendez refused to comment.
Calls to the 84th Precinct were directed to NYPD headquarters, where a spokesman would only confirm that Mendez had been suspended.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did add that Mendez wasn’t facing criminal charges. District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office confirmed that no one in his office is currently investigating the incident.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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