Bronx Woman Shot During Shootout with Drug Suspect Sues City
By David Greene
BRONX– A woman walking down a busy University Heights street with her mother and a young child, when she was shot by a police officer’s stray bullet, has filed a notice of claim regarding an impending $10 million lawsuit.
Nearly two dozen reporters jammed the foyer as Irene Urena Perez, 46, lay in a bed in the living room of her family’s apartment. She briefly spoke about being wounded, when the officer chased the suspect down Loring Place North towards West Fordham Road on the evening of December 5.
Perez recalled, “I went to get my mother from daycare… I was going down the steps, pushing a carriage and there was a lot of lot of gunshots.”
The recently arrived Mexican immigrant continued, “I pushed my mother back… and my stomach just got swollen. I couldn’t breathe. All I said was was ‘mother, they’ve killed me.’”
According to Perez, she underwent 3 surgeries in her nearly two-week stay at St. Barnabas Hospital, where doctors repaired her liver that was “cut” by the officer’s bullet.
Perez explained, “It went through the side of my stomach. I have a lot of pain.”
“My family is devastated,” Perez told reporters before adding, “I came here to work,” as the child care provider is now unsure when she will be able to work again.
Her attorney, Sanford Rubenstein noted, “She was shot in the stomach. One of 27 bullets fired by a police officer, who was engaged in a gun battle with an alleged drug dealer, who fired twice.”
Rubenstein continued, “Twenty-seven shots. A 12-year-old girl shot. Bullets on the sidewalk, on the building’s, on the cars in the vicinity. An unreasonable risk of danger to innocent bystanders.”
Rubenstein announced he has filed a $10 million notice of claim against the NYPD and the City of New York, adding, “The district attorney’s office is engaged in an investigation in which Irene is fully cooperating.”
Perez’ mother Doris told reporters, “My daughter is not doing well. Later on today will be bringing her back to the hospital.” The mother added, “I want justice.”
Asked by a reporter what was wrong with the officer’s response, Rubenstein replied, “The issue clearly is was it a reckless firing? 27 shots under the circumstances, putting innocent bystanders at risk, that’s the issue here.”
Rubenstein added, “The fact of the matter is the public should not be put at risk by reckless firing by a police officer engaged in a situation in which he very well did not have to fire that many shots. Firing while running, firing shots that hit the neighboring cars, the buildings, the sidewalk as well as two innocent bystanders, a 12 year-old girl and my client. This should not be happening in this city.”
At the time of the shooting, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan stated that plainclothes officers, “observed an individual running in their direction, wearing a mask over his face and carrying a backpack.”
Suspected gunman Edwin Castillo-Concepcion, 37, who was shot in the neck and foot, was apprehended outside of the Mi Suena Sports Bar on West Fordham Road.
Cops say Concepcion robbed a drug dealer inside the lobby of a building next door to the Perez home and fired on the officers, when the running gun-battle began. A kilo of a still-undetermined drugs and a .45 caliber handgun were recovered at the scene.
Concepcion faces two counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon.
Police officer Juan Gomez, 30, was stripped of his gun and remains restricted to desk duty until an inquiry currently underway, can be completed by the NYPD’s Force Investigation Unit.
One resident of the block said of the increasing crime in the area, “It’s dangerous and we can’t even send our kids to school, you have to walk them.”