Innocent woman injured by police bullet in Bronx speaks out

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Bronx (WABC) -- The innocent woman hospitalized when police officers opened fire on a suspect in the Bronx is speaking out.

Forty-five-year-old Irene Perez was critically injured by NYPD Officer Juan Gomez's stray bullet during a shootout. It happened December 7 in University Heights as Gomez and his partner chased an armed robbery suspect, 36-year-old Edwin Castillo, who fired at the police.

In total, Gomez fired 27 rounds, and Castillo fired three, Perez's attorney said. A 12-year-old girl was also struck as she was walking home from school.

Perez spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and underwent three surgeries to repair abdominal injuries Through a translator, she said the gunfire sounded like a war zone.

"There were a lot of fires shot. A lot, a lot of fires. Shots," she said. "And my stomach just got so swollen, I couldn't breathe."

Perez's family is also filing a $10 million lawsuit against the NYPD. The family's attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, said the officer was excessive and negligent and created an unreasonable risk of danger to innocent bystanders.

"Twenty-seven shots with a pause to reload fired by a police officer while sprinting, even in a situation in which police had been fired at, is excessive and negligent and created an unreasonable risk of danger to innocent bystanders of which Irene was one," Rubenstein said.

A police spokeswoman said the NYPD's Force Investigation Division is investigating the shooting. She did not address whether the officer followed protocol.

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