The video from one officer's body camera shows another officer first reaching into the opaque water and then dipping under the surface.
He is then quickly pulled back up by the other officer and appears to be frustrated.
The officers were attempting to get into a basement apartment at a building on 64th Street in the Woodside neighborhood Wednesday night as heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ida's remnants deluged the Tri-State and caused widespread flash flooding.
The officers were trying to rescue 50-year-old Ang Gelu Lama, 48-year-old Mingma Sherpa and their 2-year old son who lived in the apartment.
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On Twitter, the NYPD said "locked doors, rising water level & live electricity forced the officers to call for the" New York City Fire Department.
When the Fire Department's specialized units arrived, they found the three of them dead.
A neighbor said the street floods often, and there was work underway that was supposed to fix the flooding problem.
"The purpose of the construction was to make sure this doesn't happen," a neighbor said. "They took the whole block apart, but obviously city planning didn't make it work."