Police Officer Allegedly Refuses To Perform CPR On Girl Who Later Dies

The New York Police Department has suspended Officer Alfonso Mendez, 30, who is accused of refusing to help Carmen Ojeda revive her daughter, Briana Ojeda, 11. Mendez allegedly refused to perform CPR on the little girl who later died.

The NYPD had to hunt down Mendez who did not report the incident. He was identified from photos by witnesses.

The mother had called 911 but then tried to drive Briana to Long Island College Hospital. Mendez stopped Ojeda and, according to her, was surly and hostile to her request for CPR. She says that Mendez stated that he did not know CPR despite the fact that all officers are trained in CPR.

Mendez then followed her to the hospital and then disappeared.

Internal affairs did some good solid police work to find the officer, including going through gasoline receipts. One showed that Mendez stopped to fill his vehicle that day in the area.

Any torts lawsuit would likely face a causation challenge as to whether CPR would have helped the little girl. This would be established by expert testimony given her condition once she arrived at the hospital. In this case, the little girl was suffering from an asthma attack. There is clearly a case of negligence against the officer and the city in such a circumstance. Even with discipline, Mendez was still an employee of the MPD, which is responsible for his conduct under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

We have seen other such cases involving callous or hostile officers during medical emergencies (here and here and hereand here and here) . We have also seen cases where distraught family members are charged for trying to help their loved one. However, it is difficult to follow any resulting lawsuits. Obviously, the vast majority of officers would never respond in such a fashion to a dying child. This is all the more reason to not simply discipline but to remove officers who are found to lack such basic human sentiments when they are identified. You cannot teach or train officers to be human. You have to be born and raised with it.

Various sites state that CPR is used for asthma victims and helps a little but the most important thing is to get the person to the hospital as quickly as possible. One site states:

If someone has an asthma attack and collapses, what should a person do? Will CPR help?

If someone collapses from an asthma attack, it is because he or she is not getting enough oxygen. This is because all the lung’s small airways have narrowed and are not allowing enough air to reach the air sacs. Mouth to mouth respiration may help a little. The real need is to get this person to an emergency department so that the patient can receive medications and emergency endotracheal intubation (a tube in the main airway).

It is not clear if that Mendez used his siren to clear traffic. The reports say only that he followed them, which would suggest that he did not lead with a siren to quicken the trip.

Jonathan Turley

Source: NY Daily News

36 thoughts on “Police Officer Allegedly Refuses To Perform CPR On Girl Who Later Dies”

  1. To John Brown..thank you for the clarification. I always thought you didn’t do CPR if someone was still breathing (apparently the young lady was, although not effectively), but I guess I was mistaken. I don’t know why the Red Cross doesn’t tell us this. I’ll remember it, though.

  2. There’s no excuse for this. I’m a CPR Instructor in Tampa. Children need to have CPR performed on them right away. Compressions in CPR are very important, because among other benefits, they keep blood flowing to the brain, negating brain damage. Rescue breaths during CPR are critical during an asthma attack. CPR certification has to be renewed on a regular basis, so he was either lying, or someone in his chain of command wasn’t doing their job in making sure their officers were certified.

  3. I almost always have my barrier device with me, and had to start CPR once. (Fortunately some EMTs came by. I shook for an hour afterwards.) And, yes, I was just realizing that I was doing it incorrectly as they came by.
    I would like everyone who made a comment on this event on any site to go and get certified in CPR/AED. However, although I have taken at least 6 CPR classes, the Red Cross never, as far as I recall, told me to use it as a treatment for asthma. The recommendation was “keep the person calm, try to slow their breathing, and call 911.” For one thing, my understanding is that if the person still has a heartbeat, CPR can really do a job on them. And the purpose of CPR is to circulate blood (and oxygen) to the heart and brain. If there is no oxygen in the blood, it won’t do any good. I have read various opinions about the effectiveness of rescue breathing on asthma, pro and con. Since the parent apparently had an oxygen mask on the child, and I assume, was supplying her with oxygen, I can’t see what rescue breathing could have done. However, since people think CPR and AEDs are magic life savers, anyone with a child, spouse, friend, etc at risk should learn to do it reliably and also learn when not to do it and wait for an ambulance. Perhaps if the mother had had appropriate, effective training, she wouldn’t have tried to race down a one-way street with the tragic results that ensued. Panic may be ‘normal’ but it is totally counter-productive.
    Finally, if CPR is really called for, the person is dead, and is rarely brought back to life. They “stay dead.” (American Health and Safety Institute training handbook.)

  4. CPR CPR and the NYPD officer that did nothing but let this girl die in front of her parent terrible, 2nd they suspend him nice but still unbecoming of a police officer 3RD he should be found guilty of a crime and sent away OR JUST FOR NOT PAYING ATTENTION IN CLASS WHEN THEY WHERE GIVING CLASS ABOUT CPR maybe a year or two of getting fucked in the ass @ Rikers should do the trick and 4th A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY OF NYPD,this is a gross injustice of the law.

  5. CPR does no good if no O2/Co2 are getting in or out of the lungs.

    I do have asthma and there are times when my airways are completely in spasm and or clogged with copious, frothy, thick mucus)think inhaling beaten egg white with corn starch added for stability).
    There is not a damn thing you can do but hope that as you watch your self turn into a zombie with burning red eyes that the anoxic condition you are entering will cause the spasms to relax enough for breathing to be possible.
    Trying to gasp or force air into the airways is likely to increase the irritation that the lungs are experiencing that have caused the inflammation, excess heavy mucus, and spasm in the first place.

    Sometimes people die from and asthma attack, even in ER, just like they sometimes die of heart attack, even in ER.

    If CPR were the solution, why did the mother not know CPR. Did the mother have an epipin, did she have an oxygen tank? Was the child on cortisone and anti spasmodic inhalants?

    I’m no great lover of cops but the first responder for a child is usually the parent. Was the parent negligent, and then the cop was? Are police trained to deal with serious asthma attacks and the very limited options of treatment? Do they have the right equipment, like a cortisone injection?

  6. Since NY has the “Good Samaritan’s Law” which protects people who render medical assistance in an emergency and this cop had CPR training, fear of a law suit shouldn’t have affected his decision.

  7. W=c,

    Thanks for the update. And I second DigitalDave’s comments regarding the NYPD’s IA Department. Thanks for doing your job.

  8. Huge thanks to Internal Affairs for upholding the respectability of the Department. It’s outcomes like this that should be the norm, rather than a rarity.

    Remember — it’s when the department circles the wagons around an officer to shield him from the consequences of his brutality, that’s when our system of government goes to shit. Even though this is a terrible tragety for Ms Ojeda, it also represents a rare case of justice served.

  9. ‘Police Officer Alfonso Mendez, 30, who is assigned to the 84th Precinct in downtown Brooklyn, had his gun and badge taken and will likely face a departmental charge for failing to take proper police action, cops said.’~sourced article

    I think we can assume that this guy did not convince anyone that he was ‘escorting them to the ER’ or refusing to give CPR to better assist the child. Plus, 4 days to fess up AFTER being fingered by witnesses? It’s not an everyday occurrance that LEO’s are relieved of their badges is it?

  10. In court such judgments should be made on evidence.

    This isn’t court and opinions will vary, Daniel.

    Other than that, you’re correct in that no one not at the scene knows the facts. That doesn’t negate defining what you expect from law enforcement to be on its face more humane than this guy acted. The officer was surly and hostile according to the mother and he essentially fled the scene without filing and incident report – not exactly a strike in his favor. Especially the failing to file a report. He is required to file an incident report so the question that is open is why didn’t he? Which goes to his state of mind and/or motivation. And it reflects poorly on him whether his motivation was covering his callousness or just simple laziness in doing his required reporting. No one expects perfection, but in public servants designated and trained as first responders it is not unreasonable to expect better performance than rendered in this instance. They don’t just take your tax dollars as salary, they accept duties when they do so.

  11. I think Mendez did do wrong at least in not helping the woman and child into the ER after he followed them there, and in failing to report the incident.

    As for failing to use CPR, that might have been psychotic cruelty on his part; there are officers like that, and maybe Mendez is one of them. Or it might have been a terrible mistake in judgment. Or it might have been the right thing to do: bringing the child straight to the hospital without stopping for CPR (much less to radio in another officer) might have been the best chance to save her, but tragically failed. I don’t know, and I’m not convinced that anyone else who’s posted yet knows either. Such judgments should be made on evidence, not on stereotypes of policemen as heroic paladins or as jackbooted thugs.

  12. Regardless of the efficacy of administering CPR in this situation, how does one explain the callous disregard of the life of child in extremis. Aren’t we obligated to do more than nothing? How about everything? Such an attitude may not automatically disqualify an individual from PUBLIC service, as Buddha opines, but shouldn’t it really be a fact?

  13. Cops have radios. He could call for another cop to escort while administering CPR or he could have started CPR after calling for an ambulance.

    He should have and could have done more.

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