Pomona firefighter slams 'Black Sunday' verdict

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A firefighter from Pomona who survived the deadly ?Black Sunday? blaze inside a Bronx building in 2005 criticized the verdict delivered Wednesday in the trial of the building?s owner.

Jeff Cool calls the conviction of Cesar Rios on criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment charges a slap on the wrist. The jury found Rios not guilty of manslaughter in connection with the fire.

Cool and five of his colleagues were forced to jump out a window when they could not reach the fire escape due to an illegal partition that subdivided one of the apartments. Firefighters John Bellew and Curtis Meyran were killed, and Cool and the others were seriously injured.

Cool says he lives with physical and mental pain every day, and misses being able to do the job he loves.

?I've walked into the firehouse and passed the rig, and into the kitchen,? he says. ?And the brothers are sitting there at the table, and they're like, ?Are you ready to ride?? and I only wish I could.?

The Pomona firefighter says he is also upset that tenants Rafael Castille and Caridad Coste, who allegedly erected the illegal partition, were acquitted in a separate trial.

Rios faces up to four years in prison for his conviction. He remains free on bail.

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