A 91-year-old woman from Queens, New York passed away after authorities failed to rescue her from a burning building.
The victim, identified as Ethel Davis, was inside her Rockaway Beach apartment on the 12th floor when the fire broke out on January 12. NYPD immediately responded to the emergency and evacuated residents still inside the building.
A surveillance video revealed that three police officers attempted to rescue the elderly woman who was too feeble to walk on her own. Davis, who was wearing only a nightgown and socks, was carried by Sgt. Timothy Brovakos through the burning building.
Two other officers can be seen helping Brovakos as they tried to make their way out of the smoke-filled hallway.
However, Brovakos was overcome with smoke and had to be helped to safety by his colleagues. As a result, the helpless woman was left alone on the floor outside a hallway exit door.
A minute later, firefighters were seen arriving on the floor but it doesn’t appear that they notice Davis abandoned in the hallway because of the thickening smoke.
According to the New York Post, it may have taken as long as five minutes before the old woman was rescued and taken to safety. She was then taken to the hospital but died the following day due to smoke inhalation.
The outlet revealed that the fire was caused by a halogen lamp that tipped over on the 11th floor of the building.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family expressed their dismay on the police officers that attempted to rescue her. The elderly’s daughter, Marcia, said she and her mom begged the officers to let them stay inside their apartment.
She pointed out that they should never have tried to evacuate them in the first place because the building is fireproof. She also added that it is designed to contain fires to the units where they broke out.
“I told them she’d be safer in the house with the door closed and that she wouldn’t survive in the hallway,” Marcia told the outlet. “When I got near the stairwell, I saw her on the floor. I said, ‘Mama, what you doing here? Why they leave you here?’ I stayed with her as long as I could. It got so black, I was choking.”
Peter Thomas, the lawyer for the Davis family, is using the surveillance footage to file a legal complaint against the NYPD and the three police officers. He added that forcing residents to evacuate a fireproof building is against NYPD and FDNY protocol.
“It’s a fireproof building, if they had just left the residents in their apartment everything would be fine. Instead, they dragged her out of her bed and left her in the hallway.”
He also claimed that the officers left the stairwell door open on the 12th floor, which caused the smoke from the 11th floor to fill the hallway, the Daily Mail reported.
The NYPD is reportedly conducting a “major investigation” about the incident.