Family suing, blaming NYPD, EMT for man’s death after being struck by car
The EMT said the patient punched and kicked her, leading to his arrest; his family claims his movements were injury symptoms
By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — After a car slammed into Genci Frasheri in a Queens crosswalk, a delay in medical care caused by EMTs and police confusing his involuntary flailing with an assault contributed to the 70-year-old’s death three days later, his family says
The confusion led one EMT to leave the scene, delaying Frasheri’s arrival at a hospital — where because he was accused of assault, he was handcuffed to his hospital bed as he lay unconscious, his family says in legal papers.
Frasheri, a retired welder from Albania, went out on a stroll on the afternoon of Nov. 14.
“He loved walking and he did it as a way to keep healthy. He was in great shape for his age,” said his daughter, Enika Sopiqoti, 38, a charter school comptroller.
About 3 p.m., Frasheri was crossing 158th St. in Flushing when a BMW making a left turn from Northern Blvd. plowed into him.
“He had almost cleared the crosswalk when he was hit,” his daughter said.
An ambulance from New York-Presbyterian Hospital arrived. As medics began treating Frasheri, New York-Presbyterian EMT Josephine Ramirez, 58, claimed he punched and kicked her, demanded he be arrested and refused to treat him further, according to a police report and the family’s notice of claim, which is required of those who plan to sue the city.
But his family says Frasheri was merely flailing his arms, a symptom of brain injury.
It’s not uncommon for people who suffer traumatic brain injuries to flail their arms and appear combative, Frasheri’s family says.
“Abnormal movements are frequently encountered in patients with brain injury hospitalized in intensive care units,” including those who have suffered traumatic brain injury,” says a 2016 paper published by researchers in the National Institutes of Health journal Critical Care.
“The hospital staff told us they never saw anyone ever charged in that situation,” said Enika’s husband, Jovanol Sopiqoti, 40, a bank officer.
Officials with New York-Presbyterian did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
More than 50 minutes passed from the moment the first ambulance arrived at the crash scene and Frasheri’s arrival in the emergency room, records obtained by his family show.
The New York Presbyterian-Queens ambulance containing medic Ramirez arrived at the scene at 3:02 p.m. Video obtained by Sopiqoti from an area security camera shows Frasheri flailing his arms.
“The hospital neurosurgeon told me these are just the symptoms of someone who had suffered a head injury, and they should have known that,” Enika said. “Plus, he’s 70 years old. He’s not a youngster.”
The supposed assault took place within the next three minutes, with the time of Frasheri’s arrest listed in a police report as 3:05 p.m.
At that point, the medic, Ramirez, departed the scene. The police report indicates she sought treatment for pain and “redness” to her face.
A second ambulance — this one from the FDNY — arrived at 3:13 p.m. It took Frasheri from the scene at 3:44 p.m., records show.
Frasheri did not reach the emergency room until 3:57 p.m., the records indicate.
Sopiqoti learned her father was at the hospital at 5:20 p.m., and doctors needed her there immediately to get a signature so they could perform surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
“I could hear my father groaning in the background. We were told he was pretty bad, a fractured skull and bleeding inside his head,” Enika said. “The doctors told me, ‘You have to get here now.’”
But because her father was under arrest, she was told she had to get a special pass to see him from the 109th Precinct stationhouse in Flushing. That process took a ponderous two hours.
“When I got there, he had just gone into a coma,” she said.
Frasheri was listed as brain-dead the next morning — but the police insisted on continuing to keep him handcuffed and shackled to his bed, the notice of claim says.
The police also hassled Frasheri’s wife, Arjana, about having the proper pass to see her dying husband of 50 years, says the notice of claim.
“We kept asking, ‘Why are you doing this? It’s inhumane,’” Jovanol Sopiqoti said. “The police were very stubborn. The hospital staff were just as shocked as we were.”
The city Law Department declined comment.
Frasheri died from his injuries on Nov. 17. His family says an autopsy was conducted, but the exact cause of his death isn’t yet known.
“The obligation of emergency medical workers is to save the lives of victims not to first fail to recognize the symptoms of a serious brain injury and act in a manner which delayed medical treatment which we allege contributed to this wrongful death,” said Sanford Rubenstein, a lawyer for the family.
The family filed a $20 million notice of claim Monday against the city.
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On Nov. 28, cops arrested the BMW driver, Naihao Wu, 34, of Westwood, Mass., on charges of failure to yield and failing to exercise due care involving a pedestrian or bicyclist.
A spokesman for the Queens district attorney’s office said Wu got a desk appearance ticket, and is supposed to return to court Dec. 18. “No further information is available,” the spokesman said.
Frasheri moved to the city from Albania unable to speak English, built a career as a welder and then retired and worked as a security guard for Home Depot. He was waiting for his wife Arjana to also retire at the end of 2023.
“He was the best dad any girl can have,” Enika said. “He was respected and loved. I just cannot believe he had to leave this way. I just cannot find any peace in it.”