Family sues city after daughter's asthma death

April 5, 2012 2:12:56 PM PDT
It was an emotional day in court for the family of a little girl who died from an asthma attack.

They're suing after an NYPD officer didn't help them on the way to the hospital.

The family of Briana Ojeda went to court Thursday because they want their attorney to be able to question not only the officer who failed to help the little girl, but the police commissioner as well.

It's been a year and a half since the death of the 11-year-old from an asthma attack, but for her parents, it still seems like it was yesterday.

"I go to the cemetery to feel her spirit," said Carmen Ojeda, Briana's mother.

The pain of Briana Ojeda's mother is still so palpable, so visible, as she and other family members gathered with supporters on the courthouse steps in downtown Brooklyn.

It was in August of 2010 that the 11-year-old's frantic mother tried to drive her dying daughter to the hospital, driving the wrong way down a street, and enlisting an NYPD officer to help.

He allegedly said he didn't know CPR and then tried to stop the mother from continuing on.

Originally, the Police Commissioner raised doubts an NYPD officer was actually involved.

But later, the Commissioner ordered NYPD Officer Alfonso Mendez suspended without pay.

Now Briana's family who's filed a lawsuit against the city wants the officer deposed, along with the Police Commissioner himself.

"We have a right to depose Commissioner Kelly, not only because he is the police commissioner of the City of New York, but he is a defendant in this lawsuit," Bonita Zellman, the family's attorney said.

The family's attorney is also demanding the city turn over the officer's employment and disciplinary records along with cell phone and 911 calls.

They called Thursday for passage of a bill that would mandate annual CPR retraining and certification for police officers.

Right now, they only receive initial training in the academy.

The family says no one should bury a child whose death could have been prevented.

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