Did Officer Involved in Girl's Death Alter Appearance to Throw Off Witnesses?
Alfonso Mendez is accused of shaving his head to throw off investigators after young girl dies of asthma attack last week. [AP]
New York Daily News via YellowBrix
September 03, 2010
BROOKLYN – A cop accused of being unhelpful to a Brooklyn girl dying of an asthma attack shaved his head in an apparent attempt to throw off witnesses, the child’s family charged Thursday.
“We think there was an attempt to alter his appearance,” said Bonita Zelman, lawyer for the family of Briana Ojeda.
At least three witnesses claim Officer Alfonso Mendez, 30, had a healthy head of hair, albeit a receding one, a week ago today when he stopped Briana’s mother in Brooklyn as she was rushing the girl to the hospital.
It took detectives four days to identify Mendez as the cop accused of refusing to help the 11-year-old child because he didn’t know CPR. Briana died in the emergency room, leaving her parents heartbroken and fuming over the cop’s ineptness.
When he was tracked down by detectives Tuesday, Mendez was sporting a shaved head.
“Don’t you think that’s an admission of guilt?” Zelman said of Mendez’s changing hair style.
Zelman said Briana’s mom, Carmen Ojeda, only recalled that the cop who stopped her was wearing a hat. But three witnesses reported the officer as having plenty of hair on the sides.
“When I saw him, he had hair,” said Sam Ali, a deli worker who called 911 when he saw the Cobble Hill ordeal unfold.
Another witness, Wendy O’Connell, insisted Mendez had hair when he confronted Briana and her mother.
“He looks drastically different,” said O’Connell, studying the fresh photo of Mendez.
“He went from hair to bare. He still has that smirk on his face,” added witness Erica Domenech.
Mendez’s attorney declined to comment.
The cop, assigned to the 84th Precinct in downtown Brooklyn, has been suspended without pay and will likely face a departmental charge for failing to take proper police action.