No Charges in Fatal Roof Fall

Daily News

A Bronx man was set free yesterday after a grand jury refused to indict him in the death of a 14-year-old boy who ran off a rooftop while allegedly fleeing the man's pit bull dog. A relieved Thomas Rivera, 43, choked back tears as he left Bronx Criminal Court after getting word that he would not be indicted on murder charges in the July 12 death of Emmanuel Rivera (no relation). "I'm haunted by this," said a teary-eyed Rivera. "I wish I could give my life to bring him back, because I've lived my life but he was just a boy.

" The grand jury, which heard testimony from Rivera and three boys who were on the roof with Emmanuel, was convinced that Rivera didn't threaten the boy with his pit bull, Tyson. "We are satisfied," Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said, "that the grand jury . . . considered all available evidence surrounding this tragic death.

" Rivera went to the roof of the Decatur Ave. building shortly before midnight when tenants complained about youngsters hurling water balloons. Rivera, who has lived in the building for 23 years, got there ahead of five other men who were rushing up after the four boys. When Rivera got to the roof with his dog, one boy ran past him but he stopped the other three. "I asked, 'Who was the one that got away?

' They said, 'Manny. He threw the last balloon and ran,' " Rivera said. "Nobody knew [he fell]. I found out about it when I opened the window in my apartment seven minutes later.

" "I look out and I saw a kid," he said. "When they turned him over I saw it was Manny. I started crying. I was hysterical.

" Cops said the boy tried to leap to a neighboring roof but fell short and dropped six stories. "It hurts," Rivera said. "I knew that boy. It's like I lost one of my own sons. I'll carry this with me the rest of my life, but it wasn't my fault.

" Robert Kelly, Rivera's lawyer, called it "a tragic accident" and said Rivera should never have been charged.