The family of a Hofstra student who was fatally shot by a police officer during a hostage standoff in her home last year is suing Nassau County and the police department.
Andrea Rebello, a 21-year-old junior at Hofstra, was killed on May 17th last year when a police bullet aimed at an ex-con who was holding her hostage hit her in the head. Rebello, who hailed from Tarrytown, was one of five students held hostage by Dalton Smith, a 30-year-old armed felon who entered her off-campus home at around 2:30 a.m. that morning. When cops arrived—reportedly unaware that there were hostages in the home—Smith grabbed Rebello and threatened to kill both her and Officer Nikolas Budimlic, who entered the home alone.
Budimlic fired eight shots, seven of which hit and killed Smith. One bullet hit Rebello in the head, ending her life. A criminal investigation orchestrated by the Nassau District Attorney's office found Budimlic had been justified in his actions, and that Smith was responsible for Rebello's death. But the slain young woman's family says the officer "carelessly discharged" his weapon and acted "recklessly and unnecessarily," according to the suit filed yesterday.
"We believe that if the police had not come to the house that night, our daughter would still be alive," the family told Newsday through their attorney yesterday.
The Rebellos are also suing Nassau County, alleging they don't do enough to prosecute or discipline officers responsible for fatal shootings. They also claim the police department failed to train officers and communications operators properly when it comes to hostage situations, and allege they illegally detained Rebello's twin sister Jessica, who was one of the hostages who managed to escape, after the shooting.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.