BY JESSICA MOORE, TIM MCNICHOLAS | March 8, 2023
NEW YORK — Jose Gonzalez, the man who fatally ran over FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo with her own ambulance in 2017, was found guilty of murder on Wednesday.
It took nearly six years to bring the case to trial, and it took the jury of eight men and four women just one full day of deliberations to convict Gonzalez of the most severe charge — first-degree murder, meaning he intentionally caused the death of an on-duty public servant.
Arroyo’s family is still heartbroken over the loss of this loving mom to five sons, but Arroyo’s aunt says the verdict brings her solace.
“Overwhelmed. I mean, all this slew of emotions just fell over me. We waited six years, through ups and downs, anger, despair, emotion, agony, but we finally did it,” said Ali Acevedo-Hernandez.
On March 16, 2017, investigators say Gonzalez stole Arroyo’s ambulance under the guise of needing medical help, then ran her over with it twice, killing her.
He was initially deemed unfit to stand trial until a psychiatric center determined last September he is no longer incapacitated.
The defense spent the last month trying to convince the jury that Gonzalez was so high on PCP, he had no idea what he was doing and had no intention to hurt or kill Arroyo.
Prosecutors rebutted that argument, showing video they say proves Gonzalez was acting calmly before the attack and had full control over what he was doing.
“She was a first responder, but more importantly, she was a hero out there doing her job, serving the public, and to lose her life in this way, it means so much that today, almost six years later, we finally, finally get justice for her,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “Six years is a long time, but as long as the verdict was correct and we got justice, I don’t care how long it took. We made sure we got it.”
Dmitriy Shakhnevich, adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says a first-degree murder charge and conviction in New York is “incredibly rare.”
“In New York, intent is required, but not only intent, right, an aggravating factor, typically the involvement of some public servant or official. And here you had that,” he said.
“It will send a resounding message that putting hands on EMTs and paramedics will not be tolerated by the judicial system,” said Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Local.
Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh released a statement saying, “For the last six years, the family of EMT Yadira Arroyo has lived with the heartbreak of her murder at the hands of Jose Gonzalez. Today, we are grateful to the Bronx district attorney and the jurors who have found him guilty – and know this justice is one step to help all those who loved Yadi heal.”
Arroyo was a 14-year veteran of the FDNY.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 5. Sentencing guidelines mean Gonzalez could face 25 years to life in prison.