New York

NYC Woman Hit by Stray Bullet in NYPD Shootout Tells of Ongoing Nightmare

Irene Urena Perez underwent three surgeries and spent nearly two weeks in the hospital following the shooting

What to Know

  • The bystander who was shot during a police shootout with a drug suspect in the Bronx this month spoke out publicly Wednesday
  • The woman, Irene Urena Perez, has had three surgeries since being shot at West 183rd Street and Loring Place
  • NYPD officers fired 27 rounds during the shootout, while the suspect fired three times; Perez's lawyer say cops acted recklessly

A Bronx woman wounded in a shootout between police and a suspect this month is speaking out about her harrowing experience.

From her bed, Irene Urena Perez told reporters Wednesday she is still trying to recover three weeks after a police officer's stray bullet struck her in the belly. She says the stray bullet hurt her lungs, pancreas and liver -- and she can't get the sound of gunfire out of her head. 

"I couldn't breathe and I seen a lot of lights," Perez said through a translator. She was leaving a day care center where she worked when she got shot Dec. 5.

Police were chasing a suspect in an armed robbery down a crowded street in the University Heights neighborhood when the suspect opened fire on a pursuing officer. Perez was hit after one of the officers returned fire. The New York Times reported a 12-year-old girl also was wounded when a bullet tore into her leg.

Perez's attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, said she needed three surgeries and spent weeks in the hospital. He questioned whether the officer followed protocol in firing more than two dozen times at the fleeing suspect. He also said Perez is seeking $10 million in damages from the NYPD.

"The public should not be put at risk by reckless firing by a police officer engaged in a situation where he cuold very well not have to fire that many shots," Rubenstein said.

A police spokeswoman said the NYPD's Force Investigation Division is investigating the shooting. She did not address whether the officer followed protocol.

"The suspect in this incident shot a firearm in the lobby of a building during an apparent drug rip-off robbery and then fired twice on the street at an approaching officer who was attempting to arrest him," Sgt. Jessica McRorie wrote in an email.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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