NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) – A former NYPD officer admitted in court Wednesday that he was drunk when he struck and killed a Brooklyn woman last year.
Then he made an emotional apology to his victim’s family, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.
“I miss her a lot. I hope she is in a safe place,” Seni Kassime.
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Vionique Valnord’s husband thinks about his late wife every day. It’s been almost a year since she was mowed down by former officer Andrew Kelly’s SUV.
On Wednesday in a Brooklyn courtroom Kelly plead guilty to a lesser felony charge of vehicular manslaughter. He took responsibility for the accident that claimed Valnord’s life. Then he faced her father.
“He told me he was sorry,” Rev. Varius Valnord said. “He apologized with me and then I accept his apology. So I believe he sorry for what he done.”
“Andrew Kelly went over. They shook hands. Andrew said ‘I’m really, really sorry from the bottom of my heart,” and the reverend said ‘I accept your apology and forgive you,’” said Arthur Aidala, Kelly’s attorney.
Vionique Valnord was struck and killed while she was waiting for a cab in the rain at 1 o’clock in the morning. Kelly was off duty the night of the accident but stopped to give her aid. She died later at the hospital. That’s where Kelly initially refused to take a Breathalyzer test. A blood test performed hours later under subpoena showed no alcohol in his bloodstream.
“Let the message go out to police officers all over the city, all over the country, that if you drink and drive you will go to jail and you will lose your job as a police officer and you will be a convicted felon for the rest of your life,” Valnord family attorney Sanford Rubinstein said.
Kelly is expected to serve three months in prison when he is sentenced. He resigned from the Police Department on Sept. 3.
“I just want him to just plead guilty because three months in jail doesn’t matter. We just wanted him to commit that he guilty, that he was drunk driving,” Kassime said.
“I probably think it’s not enough, but we have to cooperate with the law,” Rev. Valnord said.
Prior to Wednesday’s plea deal Kelly faced up to seven years in prison. He has agreed to undergo treatment for alcoholism. Three officers who participated in the cover-up of Kelly’s condition were suspended following an internal affairs investigation.