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Off-Duty Officer Describes Comforting Dying Teen on Lower East Side

By DNAinfo Staff on January 31, 2011 7:50pm  | Updated on February 1, 2011 6:20am

Police officer Quathisha Epps, 37, testified at the murder trial of Ricardo Martinez on Monday.
Police officer Quathisha Epps, 37, testified at the murder trial of Ricardo Martinez on Monday.
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DNAinfo/John Marshall Mantel

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — An off-duty police officer recounted her desperate efforts to save a dying teen shot in the neck outside his Lower East Side building.

The officer, Quathisha Epps, 37, took the witness stand Monday in the trial of Ricardo Martinez, 25, who allegedly shot Vincent Cruz to death during a 2008 scuffle.

Epps said she ran from her fourth floor Eldridge Street apartment to the street barefoot and wearing a nightgown at about 2 a.m. on June 24. She said she carried brand-new bath towels she knew she would need to apply pressure to the victim's open wounds. 

"Baby, who did this to you?" the officer asked, trying to comfort the teen in his last moments of life.

"I'm here with you, you're not by yourself," she told Cruz, 17. "You are very loved — hold on for me."

Her own three children, a 15-year-old, 10-year-old and a baby, were in the apartment hysterical at the sound of gunshots. But she knew they were safe and ran to the dying young man to try to assist him, she said.

She held the towels against his fatal wound to try to stop him from losing blood before an ambulance arrived. She also grabbed a knife that was lying next to Cruz in an effort to protect herself and the victim from a further possible attack.

When Assistant District Attorney Scott Leet asked her if she'd known the young man she had such caring words for, she replied that she did not.

"I'm talking to a victim, I don't know his name," Epps said.

Cruz, she said, was bleeding profusely and making a "gurgling" sound.

Martinez was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of weapons possession. He allegedly attacked his victim during a fight over stolen property.

Epps is assigned to PSA 5 in East Harlem.