The parents of 11-year-old Briana Ojeda, who died of an asthma attack, blame NYPD officer Alfonso Mendez for refusing to perform CPR on her and held a rally yesterday to demand a criminal investigation into Mendez's actions. They also want the state to make a new law making it a crime for an officer to refuse to give emergency medical assistance. Mendez has already been suspended for failing to take proper police action, but the some officials agree that the punishment should be greater. State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz told NY1, "If every police officer, every police officer was recertificate in the CPR, then I will guarantee you that we would not be standing here at this moment."
Officers are trained in CPR at police academy, but many never get recertified. Mendez, who claimed he didn't know CPR, is a five-year NYPD veteran, so it is likely his certificate expired three years ago. At one point, it was also reported that Briana Ojeda was still breathing when Mendez was present. Mendez reportedly kept Briana's mother, Carmen, from driving Briana to the hospital after Carmen rushed the wrong way down a one-way street and hit a parked car. Carmen was eventually allowed to head to the hospital, where Briana died about an hour after arriving. Mendez says a good Samaritan was already performing CPR on Briana when he arrived, and she was receiving oxygen from a tank her mother kept in the car.
NYPD officers are offered refresher CPR courses every two years, but they are not mandatory. The law would make it mandatory for cops to have up-to-date certifications in CPR and first aid, and a misdemeanor for a cop to refuse medical help in an emergency. The Ojedas are also seeking criminal charges of "reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless misconduct" against Mendez, according to Bonita Zelman, the Ojeda family’s lawyer. Ortiz vowed to pass the law, saying, “I will push the legislation until we get it done."