Surveillance video obtained by Fox News showed three New York City police officers carrying a 91-year-old woman along a smoke-filled hallway — moments before they left her on the floor.
Ethel Davis — mother of six and great-great-grandmother of 16 — died of smoke inhalation one day after the Jan. 12 fire at the apartment complex where she lived in Rockaway Beach, Queens. Now, her family is preparing to file a lawsuit against the NYPD, the city and the cops who carried Davis on that fateful day.
The video showed a scene of controlled chaos as officers hustled residents out of the building. At one point, a maintenance worker wielding a fire extinguisher headed toward the blaze, but officers apparently told him to turn around.
Davis’ relatives claimed the police failure was twofold. First, they said there was no reason for cops to force Ethel out of the apartment, which was equipped with fireproof doors.
“I told them she’d [be] safer in the house with the door closed and that she wouldn’t survive in the hallway,” Ethel Davis’ daughter Marcia told the New York Post.
The second mistake, according to Davis family attorney Peter S. Thomas, was leaving a stairwell door open — allowing smoke from the fire on the 11th floor to pour onto the floor above, where Davis lived.
“At each and every step, the officers on the scene did precisely the wrong thing,” Thomas told the Post.
An attorney for one of the officers who carried Davis, Sgt. Timothy Brovakos, has said his client was overcome by smoke and tried to retrieve the woman from the hallway when he came to.
“He risked his life to save this woman,” Sergeants Benevolent Association lawyer Andrew Quinn told the Post last month. “This is what makes it difficult to be a cop these days. You run into a burning building to save lives and get blamed.”
The NYPD is conducting its own investigation into the incident.