NYPD cops took a 91-year-old woman out of her fireproof apartment during a blaze and abandoned her in a hallway — where she inhaled so much smoke waiting for help that it killed her, an FDNY source and family members told The Post.
Ethel Davis, of Rockaway Beach, Queens, who suffered from dementia, was lying in her 12th-floor bedroom last Friday morning, singing gospel music, when officers came to the front door.
“You gotta get the f–k outta here now!” one of the cops told Davis’ daughter, Marcia.
“You can’t stay, you have to leave now!”
Marcia says she pleaded with the four officers to let them stay and shield the door with a towel, since the Shore Front Parkway building is fireproof and the blaze was a floor below.
“You’ve got to get her out!” a cop yelled.
“But I’m safer with her here,” Marcia recalled saying. “She can’t stand; she can’t walk. She’s too heavy for you to carry her down. Please let her stay, please!”
Marcia claims the officer then went to the bedroom and picked up her mother — taking the frail woman into the smoke-filled hallway.
“When he lifted her up, he said, ‘Holy s–t,’ ” recounted Marcia, noting her mom weighed 160 pounds. “I told him, ‘You’re not going to get far.’ I kept telling him that over and over.”
Carrying Davis in his arms “like a baby,” Marcia said, the cop took her mom into the hall and dropped her on the floor.
The move was a direct violation of FDNY protocol — which instructs people to shelter in place when a blaze breaks out in a fireproof building. Tenants are also instructed to place wet towels at the base of their doors, to keep smoke from seeping in.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long told The Post that residents inside Davis’ building last Friday morning were told to remain in their apartments until firefighters arrived.
“We did not order evacuations,” Long said. “We were in contact with tenants via dispatch and directing them to shelter in place and then instructed firefighters to go to their locations.”
When Marcia found her mom, she was all alone — and rapidly inhaling smoke.
“I saw my mother, on the floor, right next to a hallway exit door where smoke was coming up the stairwell,” Marcia said. “Everybody else was gone.”
She waited with her mom for 10 minutes, but no one came.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Marcia said. “I started choking . . . But wasn’t going to leave her. I covered my nose with my sweater, I said, ‘Ma, nobody is coming. I gotta go. I can’t breathe no more. I’m choking.’ Then I said, ‘Ma, I love you. Goodbye.’ ”
Marcia wouldn’t see her mother again until Davis was wheeled out of her building on a stretcher. She died of smoke inhalation Saturday morning, according to an FDNY source.
“I really blame the police,” Marcia said. “I kept telling [the cop] not to take her. I know he felt like he was doing a good job getting her out, but he shouldn’t have touched her.”
Marcia said there have been several fires in the building over the 26 years that her mother — who had five children, 15 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren — lived there, and they never left the apartment.
An FDNY source said Davis might have been better off left alone, explaining, “That’s a fireproof building. You’re supposed to take shelter in place unless otherwise directed.”
Joanne Smith, a former president of the building’s co-op board, was also dumbfounded.
“Nobody understood why police were evacuating the entire building,” said Smith. “Our apartments are self-contained. So as long as the door is closed, the fire should remain within the confines of the apartment.”
The Davis family has hired a lawyer and plans to file a lawsuit against the NYPD, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“They left her to die,” said the family’s lawyer, Peter S. Thomas. “Had that officer not removed her from her bed, she’d still be alive today.”
Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said the officers took “immediate action to alert residents and assist in the evacuation of the premises. The police actions were based on an assessment of the conditions as the first responders to this emergency. The NYPD will assist in any review of this emergency response and actions.”
H/T: NY Post