Jose Gonzalez was declared competent to stand trial at the Bronx Supreme Court Thursday.
Gonzalez is accused of being behind the wheel of FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo’s ambulance in 2017 — running her over and ending her life.
“Every time I see him knowing I have to breathe the same air as he does, it is sickening,” Arroyo’s aunt, Ali Acevedo-Hernandez, said.
Arroyo’s family and co-workers have been waiting five and a half years for Gonzalez to face a judge and jury.
Earlier this year, mental health experts deemed Gonzalez mentally unfit to go on trial. When he was arrested in March 2017, defense lawyers said then he suffered with mental illness.
Health professionals recently declared he was no longer considered an incapacitated person.
“We never believed that he was unfit,” Acevedo-Hernandez said. “There are so many people out there who are mentally ill who are not criminals, that are amazing. So why hide behind the mask of mental illness to say I didn’t mean to do it?”
Arroyo, a 14-year-veteran of the FDNY and a mother of five, was responding with her EMT partner to a call in the Soundview neighborhood when they noticed a man riding on the ambulance’s back bumper.
Police and prosecutors say when they went to investigate, Gonzalez jumped in and tried to drive away.
He is accused of putting the vehicle in reverse, running over the 44-year-old.
EMT Dispatcher Jason Rosado received the emergency radio call that day from EMT Monique Williams.
“I still hear the transmissions till this day,” Rosado said. “In the back of mind, I still hear Moni crying for help on the radio.”
Although they are not police officers or firefighters, EMT workers who attended the court hearing said their jobs are dangerous as they try to save lives.
“We are not recognized like we should. The danger is really out there. We are not just ambulance drivers. We are here to take care of the people of New York, save lives. And the job is very difficult,” Rosado stated.
Gonzalez’s trial is scheduled to start at the beginning of January.
“Hopefully, justice will prevail. It is very emotional for the whole family,” Acevedo-Hernandez said.
Gonzalez faces murder, manslaughter, robbery and operating a vehicle under the influence.
He pleaded not guilty at a prior hearing and his attorney, Richard Barton, told the court his client is fit to stand trial/ But Barton did not speak with media.
Gonzalez is currently being held on Rikers Island.