Earlier this week, Michael and Carmen Ojeda were stopped by a uniformed official while rushing their asthmatic daughter Briana to the hospital. Briana died, and the city resisted the Ojedas' claim that a cop had stopped them—until now.
Last Friday, Briana Ojeda (pictured) suffered an asthma attack in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. While taking her to the hospital, her parents drove the wrong way down a one-way street, at some point striking a car. Depending on which account you read, either a police officer stopped them or they flagged him down; according to Carmen Ojeda, his cruiser blocked them in and he acted "surly" and refused to give CPR, which all cops are theoretically trained in. Despite the intervention of a bystander who knew CPR, Briana died, and the uniformed official drove off without identifying himself.
The Ojedas insisted it was a police officer who had stopped them. The city said it could have been any uniformed official—even a private security guard, pointing out that the couple couldn't pick anyone out of a lineup, and that all police officers know CPR.
But after an internal probe made a breakthrough on Tuesday afternoon, the NYPD has now acknowledged that it was a police officer: Alfonso Mendez of the 84th precinct (not the 76th, as the Ojedas had said) has been suspended without pay and will likely face departmental charges for his role in the incident. Mendez, a five-year veteran with no prior disciplinary record, was in the area for a traffic court appearance. Apparently, he was identified thanks to fuel records showing he'd refueled his car in the 76th precinct.
So, this week's tragic mystery has been solved. Let's hope it brings some small degree of closure to the Ojeda family.