MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Pinecrest police officer accused of failing to render aid at the scene of a deadly accident will get to keep her job.
However, Pinecrest Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez said Officer Ana Carrasco will be suspended without pay for 20 days and required to re-take first responder training.
Last October, University of Miami students Ying Chen, 27, and Hao Liu, 26, were killed by a driver as they tried to cross Kendall Drive not far from U.S. 1.
Off-duty Miami Police Sergeant Javier Ortiz, who happens to head the Fraternal Order of Police Union, was leaving a nearby drug store when heard the crash. Ortiz said after arriving on the scene, he checked the vitals on both Chen and Liu and immediately began CPR on the female.
“It was just me. I had no one to work on the male and I was waiting for help to arrive,” Ortiz told CBS4 at the time.
When Carrasco arrived, dash cam video from her patrol car showed the officer standing with her hands in her pockets watching Ortiz try to help the stricken female student.
Ortiz said he begged her to help.
“There were people, civilians, yelling at her to please do something and she did absolutely nothing,” Ortiz said.
CBS4 obtained a sworn statement from a surgeon who was at the accident scene. The doctor said Ortiz rejected her offers of help.
“And he yelled at me and my friends to get away and when I said,’Look I’m a surgeon. If you would like me to help, I am happy to assist you’ and then he yelled at me again to just get away so I got away,”said plastic surgeon Deirdre Marshall, MD. over the phone to CBS4’s Gary Nelson.
By phone, Ortiz told Nelson that did not happen.
“There was no one at the scene Gary that identified themselves as a medical doctor. I would have taken help from anyone,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz said the real issue is Carrasco who allegedly failed to help.
“The point of this whole entire incident is,’Did this police officer render aid?’ And she didn’t. She didn’t even check a pulse,”said Ortiz.
Ortiz told CBS4’s Gary Nelson, “The man had a weak pulse. The issue is whether she rendered aid as required by law. She did not. She contributed to his death.”
The department conducted an internal review of Carrasco’s actions.
When questioned about what happened that night, Carrasco reportedly said she gave Ortiz a pair of gloves when he asked for them, told bystanders to back away from the scene and tried to locate the vehicle that hit the victims which was stopped a short distance away.
A recording of Carrasco’s statement says, “I actually made a visual assessment on the male facing down. I didn’t see him breathing I didn’t see his lungs or chest expanding or any signs of life.”
Later she said, “Based on my training, education, experience I was concerned flipping the male victim over. I was concerned it could cause cervical or spinal injury and maybe kill him. I don’t know if he’s dead or not. I run back to my car to see if I have more gloves to see if I can search for any vital signs at that time rescue arrived.”
She said she never checked vital signs because she didn’t have another pair of gloves.
A thirty-two page investigative report by Pinecrest Police, obtained by CBS4 News, found Officer Carrasco failed to render aid at an accident involving serious injury.
Based on the findings of the review, her supervisor recommended a five day suspension. However, Pinecrest Police Chief Samuel Ceballos Jr. later called for her termination.
The Police Benevolent Association has defended Carrasco’s actions.
“Both victims were beyond help. One was absolutely dead and one was seconds away from dying,” said Union Chief John Rivera.
Another point brought up in her defense by Rivera was that Carrasco’s patrol car did not have protective goggles the city requires officers to don before touching injured victims. At the time of the crash, village police cars weren’t equipped with the goggles, Rivera said. Village officials say they are mandatory and have been in police vehicles since 2009, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.