BUSHWICK — A Brooklyn man who died in police custody after waiting four hours for an ambulance was cremated and laid to rest Wednesday, even as his heartbroken family waited for answers on what caused his death.
Angel Cordero, 39, who had a history of convulsions, suffered a massive seizure in a holding cell of the 88th Precinct stationhouse, as DNAinfo New York first reported, after being arrested for attacking a woman in the corner of Myrtle and Carlton avenues on the morning of the Fourth of July, police and sources said.
Cordero's tearful father, sister, daughter, and extended family sat through mass at Saint Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Bushwick on Wednesday morning, wondering how he was allowed to die under police supervision.
“Angel may have had his problems,” Maribel Taylor, 41, Cordero’s sister, said, adding that he had bouts with alcoholism and a few non-violent arrests in his record. “But he was a good man and nobody deserves to die like that. There is no excuse to deny him basic human care.”
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating Cordero’s death, sources said.
Since Cordero’s death, the NYPD has not reached out to his family. They also did not offer to pay for any of the funeral costs, relatives said. The family started a fund to help cover the funeral and potential legal fees.
The city Medical Examiner’s Office has not determined a cause of death. It will take a few weeks to run additional tests, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
“Death is not the end but a change,” the priest at Saint Barbara’s said during the homily. “Angel is not dead but living a new kind of life.”
Cordero was cremated at St. Michael's Cemetery in Astoria.
“The NYPD has a moral obligation to protect and serve the people,” said Donovan Mendoza, 24, Cordero’s nephew, who was one of the people carrying Cordero's casket into the church.
“The officer (at the precinct stationhouse) admitted that it could’ve been handled better,” added Mendoza, who was identified his uncle's body, said.
According to police sources, Cordero began to exhibit signed of distress soon after his arrest July 4, so police transported him to Woodhull Hospital. He was treated and released back to the cops an hour later, sources said.
The next morning, about 1:40 a.m., Cordero, who was still in police custody, again showed signs of distress. This time, he wasn't given medical attention, law enforcement sources said.
Police officers called and ambulance, telling EMS that they had a “sick patient,” but were told that there weren’t any ambulances available because of the high number of holiday related incidents. The cops didn’t think Cordero needed immediate emergency care so they decided to wait, sources said.
Almost four hours later, at 5:27 a.m., Cordero had a massive seizure in the holding cell, according to a police report. Police officers called 911 and reported the emergency but by the time paramedics were dispatched, Cordero had died in the cell, police sources said.
Cordero’s relatives said they plan to hire a lawyer.