Asthma girl parents sue city, cop in 11-year-old’s death

Officer suspended in ‘asthma girl’ death
Photo by Paul Martinka

The family of an 11-year-old Carroll Gardens girl who suffocated from asthma this summer is suing the city and the 84th Precinct cop whose inability to perform CPR may have contributed to her death.

The officer, Alfonso Mendez, has been suspended by the NYPD for his role in the death of Briana Ojeda — but no criminal charges have been filed.

In its suit, the family is demanding $10 million to compensate for the loss of Briana and $7 million to punish the city and Mendez for their alleged negligence.

“The city failed to properly train and supervise Mendez,” said Bonita Zelman, the family’s lawyer.
According to court documents, Mendez kept Briana from getting to the hospital in time to survive the Aug. 27 attack. A spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said that Mendez is under investigation, and city Law Department spokeswoman Kate Ahlers said, “This involves a tragic situation and we will review the legal papers thoroughly.”

An NYPD investigation confirmed that Mendez, a five-year veteran, had confronted Briana’s mom, Carmen Rosa Torres, after she had sideswiped a car near Kane and Henry streets while driving the wrong way down a one-way street in a mad dash to get her choking daughter to Long Island College Hospital on Hicks Street.

At Briana's funeral, parents Michael and Carmen Ojeda released white doves and her coffin was brought in on a carriage.
Photo by Paul Martinka

The frantic mother told the cop that her daughter had had an asthma attack and pleaded for his help. 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.

Briana, who was about to enter the sixth grade at St. Francis Xavier School on President Street in Park Slope, later died in the emergency room.
On Tuesday, Briana’s grandmother said the family was still enraged at the officer and the city.

“Even if Mendez didn’t know CPR, there’s no excuse for him to not escort her to the hospital,” said the grandmother, Maria Ojeda, breaking down at the door of her Carroll Gardens home. “She was such a good girl. We miss her smile.”

Dozens of supporters rallied the parents earlier this year. Now the family is suing the city.
Photo by Paul Martinka