Charges dropped against man who allegedly groped EMT after fire

NYC's EMS workforce has been facing a significant retention crisis, as 50% of EMT’s were quitting after just three years on the job and 70% were leaving for other jobs and careers by their fifth year.
Photo REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Charges were dropped Wednesday against a Bronx man who was alleged to have groped an EMT at the scene of a fire last week in Soundview.

According to the Office of District Attorney Darcel Clark surveillance video and other evidence showed the man was having a medical emergency involving a seizure.

“I will not tolerate assaults on first responders, who courageously serve our city, especially during this pandemic and I will not prosecute anyone unless there is evidence to support charges,” Clark said. “After an intensive investigation, we have dismissed and will not charge forcible touching,sex abuse or felony assault on a police officer, firefighter or EMS professional,against Aaron Cervantes-Mejia. He was the subject of a false narrative that spread quickly through the media and social media.”

The Bronx District Attorney’s Child Abuse/Sex Crimes Bureau and NYPD Bronx Special Victims Squad reviewed surveillance video from a nearby store camera that shows Cervantes-Mejia, 52, stagger and fall in a crosswalk at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Westchester Avenue as he was walking to work at 7:06 a.m. on Jan. 28.

Passersby stopped to assist and waved over EMTs that were across the street on Westchester Avenue. A female EMT responded to the requests for help. Cervantes-Mejia is seen lying on the ground in the crosswalk and grabs the EMT’s clothing in what appears to be the throes of a seizure. The EMT moved his hand away without any assistance while covered in protective gear from head to toe. Cervantes-Mejia did not appear to have control of his hands.

The investigation also included interviews of people who have witnessed Cervantes-Mejia suffer multiple seizures in the past during which he grabbed at anything within reach. Furthermore, a review of medical records confirmed a history of seizures where on at least one prior occasion he was transported to a hospital by EMS for treatment of a seizure.

On Thursday, the District Attorney’s Office deferred prosecution and released Cervantes-Mejia.

However, the FDNY does not support Clark’s actions. Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Local 2507 FDNY feels the EMT was threatened and sexually assaulted.

Furthermore, Barzilay said the DA should have never released the unredacted video of a sexual assault victim. Barzilay expressed displeasure that the city is supporting an assailant, not its first responders.

“The Bronx District Attorney has failed to publicly acknowledge that the female EMT was a victim and should not be dismissed on claims of a false narrative,” he stated. “Women have agency and know when and if they are being sexually groped. The video clearly shows the female EMT jumping back when groped in her crotch area.

I believe the response from the Bronx District Attorney is out of line and irresponsible. In my view this video does not justify clearing him from assaulting our member.

A person with a serious medical condition does not just get up and walk away. Not only is this EMT a victim of sexual abuse, she is now a victim of the District Attorney’s office.”

 

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