SOUTH BRONX — The accused killer of Bronx EMT Yadira Arroyo claimed that he commandeered her ambulance to save people from a fire and described himself as "a good guy" who "didn't do nothing," according to court documents.
Jose Gonzalez, who is charged with killing Arroyo after stealing her ambulance and backing into her with it on March 16, appeared in court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty to first degree murder.
Gonzalez, 25, had declined to appear at his previously scheduled court date on March 22 but showed up handcuffed and in an orange jumpsuit on Wednesday to a courtroom packed with dozens of Arroyo's fellow EMTs. He did not speak apart from defiantly saying "not guilty" when asked how he pleaded to the charges against him.
Israel Miranda, president of the EMTs local 2507 union, said he was upset with Gonzalez's plea given the volume of evidence against him.
"How can this man plead not guilty? The evidence speaks for itself," he said. "No one does this to my member. No one does this to an EMS professional and a sister of our workforce."
However, in statements that Gonzalez made to the police after being taken into custody, he denied doing anything wrong and threatened to sue, saying he would be able to buy a Bentley with the money he netted from the litigation, court documents show.
"I didn't do anything wrong," he told police. "I hopped on the ambulance to save people from the fire. I read the consent forms."
Gonzalez later said that he wanted to get an ambulance because his hand was bleeding and spoke to the passenger on board, who did not tell him to leave.
"I sensed a bomb threat. NYPD crashed into me," he said. "This is a conspiracy."
Toxicology tests on Gonzalez came back positive for PCP, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
Gonzalez is not due back in court until Aug. 25 and was ordered held without bail. His defense attorney, Alice Fontier, declined to make a bail application on his behalf.
He had been released without bail on an attempted assault charge just weeks before Arroyo's death and has had 25 total cases with the Bronx DA's Office on mostly minor offenses such as marijuana possession and disorderly conduct.
Fontier said in court that she and Gonzalez had both received threats since the case began, but the crowd of EMTs was largely unsympathetic to this and said that it comes with the territory.
"We do not condone violence, obviously," Miranda said, "but we cannot control the sentiments of the public and the citizens of New York that are outraged over this crime."
EMT Louis Montalvo said that, although they were trained as medical professionals to put feelings aside, that was impossible to do in a situation like Arroyo's death.
"With this, we have no choice but to be biased about it because this is our sister who helped people like that on a daily basis," he said. "We’re disgusted, and we want justice."