MINEOLA, N.Y (CBSNewYork/AP) — New questions have mounted about procedures used by a Nassau County police officer who responded to an armed robbery, and ended up firing the bullet that killed 21-year-old Hofstra University student Andrea Rebello.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, experts said police radio transmissions may help determine what officers knew as they entered the off-campus home.
The officer who fired the shots has been identified as Nikolas Budimlic, a 19-year police veteran.
Rebello and the intruder, Dalton Smith, died early Friday when the officer fired eight shots, hitting him seven times, with one bullet striking Rebello once in the head, according to county homicide squad Lt. John Azzata.
With a gun pointed at her, Smith “kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” according to Azzata. The officer acted quickly, saying later that he believed his and Rebello’s life were in danger, according to authorities.
As of Monday, the Nassau County PBA said Officer Budimlic was “surrounded by family and friends who support him during this time of grief.”
Experts have said the chain of events this past Friday illustrates the difficulty police officers face when responding to calls involving armed gunmen.
The former head of the Nassau Bar Association also cautioned against second-guessing an impossible situation.
“Obviously, this officer was confronted with what was a life-threatening position,” said former Bar Association president Marc Gann. “I’m not in a position to second guess that. I don’t think anyone is at this point in time.”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Michele Galietta said the officer was confronted with a split-second choice when the suspect was holding Andrea Rebello in a headlock pointed a loaded handgun at him.
“The big question is, how do you know, when someone’s pointing a gun at you, whether you should keep talking to them, or shoot?” said Galietta. “That’s what makes the job of an officer amazingly difficult.”
Jon Shane, a former NYPD captain, added that the guidelines for using deadly force are not as simple as some people realize.
“A police officer doesn’t have to allow someone to kill him or her before they can take action, that’s number one. It depends on the actions of the offender,” he said. “If the hostage taker standing there waving a gun and the police officer feels that the hostage is going to be killed, or an innocent third party is going to be killed or the officer is going to be killed — then they can respond with force.”
But Rebello’s godfather, Henrique Santos of Eastchester, told the Journal News he is angry about the shooting, and believes the officer should have negotiated instead of firing.