MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A bail hearing for the retired NYPD officer charged in connection with the hit-and-run death of a 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome in Levittown has been postponed because his lawyer said an indictment is expected soon.
Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after surrendering to police earlier this week.
Police said Elardo fled the scene after he blew a red light and hit Bryanna Soplin as she crossed Hempstead Turnpike just after midnight Sunday. His attorney said Elardo ” didn’t believe he hit anybody.”
Elardo, a single father of four, claims he received an emergency phone call from one of his children seconds before the crash. The call was cut off and Elardo said he looked back and decided to rush home when he didn’t see anything.
Elardo’s family and lawyer claim Nassau County police kept the victim’s family in the dark about the timing of his surrender.
“Within seven hours the police in Nassau County, the authorities, knew that they had the suspect who voluntarily wanted to turn himself in,” attorney Michael DerGarabedian said. “They never told the family for two days. Because she (the mother) was on the media crying, ‘I wish he would show up, I wish he would show up.’ And I really want the answer as to why they withheld that. If a person is voluntarily coming in, why would they put that woman through all that grief?”
Nassau Police deny defense claims that Elardo identified himself as a suspect within seven hours of the hit-and-run, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
The defendant’s brother said Elardo would never knowingly leave someone to die on the side of the road.
“He’s done nothing but dedicated his life to helping people,” Santo Elardo said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Elardo faces two to seven years in prison if convicted.
He continues to be held on $1 million bail, which his lawyer calls excessive.
“He’s been cooperating from the beginning, he turned the car around, he voluntarily showed up,” DerGarabedian said.
Meanwhile, funeral services for Bryanna are being held Thursday in Hicksville.
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