Cop Who Ignored Dying NY Asthma Girl Identified, Suspended

This is a Public Service Announcement for everyone, police officers or not and in New York or elsewhere, who might some day confront a man, woman, or child who is flaring and struggling to breathe.

Asthma kills.

Let me write that again:


It doesn’t happen very often. Most asthmatics can do everything that people with more reliable airways do, and they pass away at the end of their long, full lives from something else entirely. But occasionally, and often with no warning, fatal asthma attacks do happen, and every second counts.

– Do not underestimate the danger of a serious asthma attack.
– Do not refuse to administer CPR if you are trained in it.

Most of all, do not forget this story of Briana Ojeda, may she rest in peace, and the NYPD officer who walked away as she died.

She was only 11 years-old.

My daughter’s age.


16 responses to “Cop Who Ignored Dying NY Asthma Girl Identified, Suspended”

  1. Sarah says:

    I read about that. It seems that once a year or so, there’s an instance of someone who has a duty to help those in need utterly blowing it off and totally screwing up one or more peoples’ lives as a result. Case in point: This moron, or the paramedics who denied help to an asthmatic, pregnant woman resulting in her death.

    Frankly, I think there’s a difference between being a ordinary member of the public and someone who has trainign in that sort of thing – ESPECIALLY if you’re a qualified first responder. The moment you walk into that classroom, you’re shouldering a duty to anyone you come across in need. I’m trained in First Aid, CPR and AED use. I can’t imagine not lending aid when it’s required. So far as I’m concerned, it’s my duty to use the knowledge I’ve aquired whenever and wherever it’s needed. For someone who’s a qualified first responder (such as a police officer, fire fighter or paramedic), it’s even more so. Lending aid isn’t just a good idea and an unspoken duty, it’s their job. If you don’t want to lend aid, don’t take the training, and don’t take the job. Period, as far as I’m concerned.

    People like this (regardless of whether it was active malice or simple incompetence) give a bad name to all trained first responders out there, and they cause real harm. People like this shouldn’t be in their job, pure and simple.

    Am I being judgemental? Yes, and justifiably so. I happen to think that our first responders and medical professionals put themselves in a position where they should be held to a higher standard than Joe Public – because they have more training, better equipment and better preparation. And if you’re not prepared or not comfortable with that, don’t take the job or training in the first place. I won’t hold that against someone. I will hold it against them if they take the job and/or training, and then refuse to use it.

    Stuff like this just makes me rage.

    To end on a positive note, the NYPD is reacting appropriately, and hopefully, they’ll institute changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Too often, police departments tend to have a “blame the victim” mentality in cases of police misconduct.

  2. Sara C. says:

    you know, perhaps it’s because I know someone who’s ex-husband is a psychotic jerk who shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun, however, in reality was the “face” of a large police department, during a very stressful and scary time…but this incidence doesn’t surprise me.

    I’m not sure that “suspension” is enough of an action. Perhaps that’s the mommy in me talking, I’m not sure…but I’d like to see him at least fired, and perhaps charged with some sort of negligence.

  3. Elisheva says:

    Would mouth to mouth even help an asthma attack?

  4. Sara C. says:

    probably long enough for an ambulance to get there.

    It seems like there was a whole lot wrong in that whole situation, culminating with the police officer refusing to help.

    However, and forgive me for what might seem to be “blaming the victim” because I’m not….if traffic is SO bad that someone thinks they need to go the wrong way on a one way street…I’ll bet the ambulance would have gotten to the park faster than she could drive. However, I know how my brain shuts off when M is just having a little trouble…I’m sure she thought she was doing the best thing. Imagine, though, if she had hit another car head on…

    It’s just such a tragic situation, made worse because someone who should have helped refused to

  5. Amy says:

    I’ll probably write more about this and there have been a few new developments since this post, but a few thoughts right now:

    – It’s hard to know if CPR would’ve helped this little girl since none of us were there and didn’t see the attack, but for me the issue is that he didn’t even try. This is the NPYD’s mission statement:

    “The Mission of the New York City Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in our City by working in partnership with the community and in accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment.”

    And one of its values:

    “Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility.”


    – In some of the comments sections on New York blogs about this incident, I’ve read criticism of the mother for both endangering the public by driving the wrong way and for not knowing CPR herself and relying on this officer to save her daughter’s life instead.

    As Sara mentions, when your child is suffering a severe attack or any serious health risk, it is very natural to panic or for your brain to shut off. For all we know, this mother may have known CPR but been too panicked to perform or even remember it.

    Plus, if a parent does everything right, if they have a good handle on their child’s condition – whether asthma or otherwise – if they know CPR and other emergency procedures, does that negate the responsibility of community workers?

    And as Sarah mentions in that first comment, if police officers, EMTs, or other first responders don’t want that responsibility, why did they choose these jobs in the first place?

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