'Black Sunday' Video To Be Used In NYC Trial

The video will be used as evidence against three people charged with manslaughter for putting up or knowing about an illegal partition that blocked a fire escape.


New York, N.Y.-- This never-seen video captures the heartbreak of "Black Sunday," as the city's Bravest try to save their brothers who were forced to jump from a burning Bronx building.

The footage - taken by an elderly man who lives near 236 E. 178th St., where the Jan. 23, 2005, fatal fire occurred - will be used as evidence against three people charged with manslaughter for putting up or knowing about an illegal partition that blocked a fire escape.

The approximately 30 minutes of tape, recently turned over by prosecutors to defense lawyers, and exclusively obtained by The Post, shows firefighters carrying the men who jumped for their lives. The actual plunges cannot be seen.

But in one of the most poignant shots, a firefighter desperately gives chest compressions to another in an effort to save his life.

Six firefighters jumped from the inferno in an effort to save their lives.

Lt. Curtis Meyran of Malverne, L.I., and firefighter John Bellew of Pearl River were killed. The four others suffered serious injuries.

The elderly man shooting the rescue - identified in documents as Francisco Pagan - makes haunting commentary on the tape as the firefighters bring four men on stretchers to safety.

"He's dead," Pagan comments as he continues filming through his apartment window, although it's unclear if he's correct. None of the victims is identifiable.

"Somebody else is dead," Pagan says, as the second stretcher arrives, with one of the city's Bravest trying to pump life into his critically injured comrade. The injured firefighter is motionless, except for the involuntary rocking of his head as the stretcher is moved from the inferno.

"They're trying to save him," the old man says. "Mostly bodies. Goodness," he adds.

Defense attorneys plan to move to suppress the graphic images.

If a judge allows jurors to see them, Francisco Knipping-Diaz, lawyer for Caridad Coste - who allegedly blocked a fourth-floor fire escape with an illegal partition to rent out parts of the apartment for cash - said he'll ask jurors not to consider the emotions the pictures are bound to stir up.

"It's certainly not nice to look at. It's horrible," he said.

But first, defense attorneys plan on moving to dismiss the charges against Coste and the two others: tenant Rafael Castillo, 55, who leased the third-floor apartment where the fire started with an overloaded electrical outlet, and former building owner and manager Cesar Rios, 50, who allegedly knew of the illegal partitioning.

denise.buffa@nypost.com

Republished with permission of The New York Post.