Video: N.Y. cops stand on cruiser to rescue fire victims
"We got you! We got you!" the officers can be heard shouting on their bodycam footage
By Maki Becker
The Buffalo News, N.Y.
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — Standing on the roof of a police cruiser with red and blue emergency lights flashing at their feet, Cheektowaga police officers helped pluck four people and a little dog from the second floor of a burning house early Friday.
"We got you! We got you!" the officers can be heard shouting on their body camera footage as they coaxed each person over the railing of the balcony and helped them down onto the cruiser, while two other officers helped them down to the ground.
Officers William Cookfair, Brendan Tomasulo, Joshua Donovan and Jeffrey Scaglion were responding to a call about a house fire on Preston Road at about 12:20 a.m. Friday.
Dispatchers told them that the fire was in the lower part of the house and the people were trapped upstairs.
Video from the officers' body cams show what happened next.
The officers race to the front and side of the building.
"How do you get up top?" an officer can be heard yelling.
An officer tries to open the front door and smoke pours out. "Ah dude," he said.
A woman in a nightgown who is outside says: "They can't come down the stairs."
Next, an officer pulls a police cruiser right up alongside the house underneath the balcony.
Two officers climb on top of the patrol vehicle. "Come on over here," an officer says to the people on the balcony. "We'll get you this way."
The car is apparently a little too far away.
"Can you pull it up a little more?" an officer says.
"You holding on?" the officer driving says.
"We're good," a cop on the car's roof says. "That's good."
A pair of naked feet appears over the railing. There's smoke all around.
"I'm scared," a person says.
"Give us your hand," an officer said. "We got you."
"Put your foot on my bicep," the other says and they help the person to the roof.
At one point, one of the body cams appears to fall on the ground and continues to record facing up. It shows that the officers each have one foot on the edge of the balcony and the other on the cruiser.
Another officer tries to direct the rescued people across the street.
"The fire trucks are going to be coming," the officer said. "Just go to the other side."
"My puppy!" a voice can be heard saying.
"We're going to get him next. Stay here to grab your dog," an officer said.
One cop hands what looks like a big fur ball to another.
"Friendly?" he asks.
"It's OK, ma'am," the officer says and hands down the dog.
The officers can be heard coughing and gagging from the smoke.
"Put your shirts over your face, guys," one officer on the ground can be heard saying. "You want masks?"
The officers rescued four people, Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould said.
Pine Hill Fire District responded and was assisted by neighboring fire districts in extinguishing the fire, he said. The American Red Cross was assisting the displaced residents with their needs.
The video was posted to the Cheektowaga Police Department Facebook page Friday afternoon, quickly gaining hundreds of "likes."
"These are the men and women protecting us," Gould told The Buffalo News. "Not just arresting people, but they're there no matter what our citizens need from us. They make me proud."
(c)2021 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)