Justice for Briana? Parents want criminal charges in asthma girl death

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

Hundreds of mourners rallied at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Tuesday to demand criminal charges against an 84th Precinct cop who declined to give CPR to an 11-year-old Carroll Gardens girl as she was suffering a fatal asthma attack last week.

The officer, Alfonso Mendez, has been suspended for his role in the death of Briana Ojeda — but the District Attorney’s office has said that he is facing no charges.

“We want the DA to file charges of reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless misconduct,” said Bonita Zelman, the Ojeda family’s lawyer.

Marchers carried graffiti-style, spray-painted signs on the Court Street side of Borough Hall, calling for a law requiring all police officers to be retrained and re-certified in CPR every year.

Currently, cops are only trained and certified in the police academy. During Briana’s attack, Mendez apparently told Briana’s mother, Carmen Delgado, that he did not know how to perform the life-saving technique.

Carmen and Michael Ojeda release doves at Evergreen Cemetery in Bushwick, where Brianna was buried.
Photo by Paul Martinka

The legislation already has a name: Briana’s Law.

“I will push the legislation until we get it done,” said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Red Hook).

Mendez has not denied that he doesn’t know CPR, but has claimed that he is not responsible for Briana’s death, despite Delgado’s contention that he detained her to give her a ticket when she struck a car in her mad dash to get Briana to the hospital. The five-year NYPD vet told reporters that someone was already performing CPR on Briana and that the girl was receiving oxygen from a tank that her mother always kept handy in the event of an attack.

The rally was almost as emotional as Briana’s funeral last week, when hundreds of mourners dressed in white to mourn as a horse-drawn carriage carried Briana’s coffin to St. Francis Xavier Church in Park Slope.

Officials at the 84th Precinct declined to comment, and a spokesman from NYPD headquarters did not respond to e-mail requests for information.

Dozens of supporters rallied around Michael and Carmen Ojeda, the parents of 11-year-old Briana Ojeda, who died last week during an asthma attack after a police officer briefly detained the mom before getting her daughter to the hospital. Protesters gathered at Brooklyn Supreme Court to demand that all NYPD police officers be trained and tested in CPR.
Photo by Paul Martinka