FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens — Police officers made a deadly mistake while trying to save a 91-year-old woman from a fire in her Queens apartment building, her family charges in a new lawsuit against the city.
Ethel Davis died of smoke inhalation after a massive fire broke out one floor below her Queens apartment in January.
Attorney Peter Thomas, who is representing the Davis family, told PIX11 News that the officers took the woman out of her fireproof apartment during the massive fire in the Dayton Beach Park Coops, a violation of FDNY protocols.
The officers then left her in a hallway, reports said, where she inhaled smoke lying on the floor.
“I’m sure it’s well intentioned, but in practice, it was just the wrong thing to do,” Thomas said.
The fire broke out on the 11th floor of the 13-story building along Shore Front Parkway. The Davis family, who live on the 12th floor, should not have had to leave, Thomas said.
“Had the fire doors been closed, the smoke could have been minimal,” he said, but the fire doors were open, Thomas said.
Officers were seen quickly trying to get people out, but the smoke was moving too fast.
A spokesman for the NYPD said the officers took action as the first responders.
“NYPD police officers were the first to respond to this fire incident and 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 efforts by the officers were a direct violation of FDNY protocol — which instructs people to shelter in place when a blaze breaks out in a fireproof building. At no time did the FDNY call for an evacuation.
Back at the building, neighbors are still grieving over the loss and believe what happened to Davis could have happened to anyone here.