DA: No Criminal Charges For Officer Who Killed Hofstra University Student
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Nassau County police officer who fired the fatal shots that killed a Hofstra University student and the armed intruder who was holding her hostage will not face criminal charges.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice issued a 28-page report Wednesday on the May 17, 2013 shooting, following a review of whether police personnel acted appropriately during the deadly confrontation.
Rice said prosecution of officer Nikolas Budimlic, a 19-year police veteran, is not warranted, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.
EXTRA: Read The Full Report (pdf) WARNING — Report contains graphic language
Budimlic was one of the first officers to respond to the break-in at an off-campus apartment in Uniondale. Police said the officer found an intruder — Dalton Smith, 30 — holding Andrea Rebello, 21, in a headlock and threatening to kill her.
The officer fired when Smith pointed a gun at him, police said.
Smith “kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” according to county homicide squad Lt. John Azzata. The officer acted quickly, saying later that he believed his and Rebello’s life were in danger, according to authorities.
Smith was hit seven times, Rebello once.
“Andrea Rebello’s death was not caused by any criminal misconduct by Officer Budimlic. Her death was caused by Dalton Smith’s decisions,” the report read. “Officer Budimlic reasonably perceived threats of deadly force against himself and others and acted accordingly. Though the results were unquestionably tragic, criminal charges under these circumstances would be inappropriate and legally unsustainable.”
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday, some students reacted with passion to the incident – with some arguing that Budlimic should be held responsible for Rebello’s death.
“Police are trained to use guns and weapons. That’s part of the job,” said Aaron Rodwin, a former classmate of Rebello’s. “When they have situations like this where they might have to shoot, they need to know when is the right time to do it, and they need to also be accountable for their actions.”
“That’s what he thought he should have done, but that was not the best call,” said former Hofstra student Jared Goodman. ”Obviously, she’s dead, and the whole Hofstra community was mourning afterwards.”
“I believe he was in a very tricky situation,” added student Danielle Gresalfi, “At that point he was trying to think what would be best for her interests.”
But Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said the findings were expected, 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported.
“Dalton Smith, the criminal that entered that house is the one that’s fully responsible for everything happened at that house that night,” Carver said. “He had a violent criminal past. He went to that house with a gun, and he was there to kill. Officer Budlimic went to that house. He entered the house with people running out. He went there to help.”
Some on the Hofstra campus agreed with Carver’s assessment.
“We’re never going to know what happened. We weren’t there,” said Hofstra student Bianca Kroening. “So it’s really not our place to judge, I guess.”
Carver said that if Budlimic had not taken action deaths would have been likely.
“If the officer had stayed outside the house and there were deaths, which were likely to happen, we would have been criticized for staying outside. This is a lose-lose. No matter what action the officer had taken there would be criticism,” he said.
According to court papers filed by the family’s lawyer, the suit alleges “wrongful death, civil rights and negligent actions against the County of Nassau and its police officers and possibly other defendants to be named after discovery,” reported Newsday.
CBS 2 reached out to the Rebello family and Hofstra University Wednesday and was awaiting comment. Officer Budlimic, a father and a husband, has not returned to patrol in the time since the shooting but is expected to return in the coming weeks.
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