Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has ordered an investigation into last week's police killing of a Hofstra University student who was being held hostage by a gunman.
The results will be turned over to the family of the slain student, Andrea Rebello, and the public. "Of course there's always concerns when an innocent victim loses their life under these circumstances," Mangano said Monday in his first interview since the shooting.
"There is an obligation to investigate so the family can understand what exactly occurred that day, as well as the administration and the public," he said.
Transparency is critical, especially in a department that usually is not when it comes to disclosing its internal workings. The death of an innocent hostage requires full disclosure in order for the public to see what happened, why, whether there were mistakes and whether they have been corrected.
Thomas Dale, Nassau's police commissioner, "has assured me that his investigation will review the fact pattern that resulted in the shooting, in the death and the procedures in place at the time," Mangano said.
Some police policy experts, in news reports, questioned whether officers should have entered the house during a hostage situation. And conflicting reports on whether hostage negotiators were called to the scene raise other questions about whether department communications were effective.
Mangano called such views speculative. "It is hard to piecemeal it together; you need the full investigation," he said.
"It is speculation until the full investigation is completed and reported to the family first and then to the public," he said.
Mangano defended Nassau's police department, which over the past two years has dealt with a series of scandals, including the recent corruption convictions of two former high-ranking department officials. "We have a highly trained police department that works diligently to keep crime down," he said.
Mangano said he had not spoken to the officer -- whose name has not been released by the department but whom sources identified as Nikolas Budimlic -- involved in last week's shooting.
"I am told by people I speak with in the department that the officer is having a really hard time with this," he said.
Mangano said he planned to press again for tougher state laws against repeat violent offenders like Dalton Smith, 30, of Hempstead, who also was shot and killed by the officer while holding Rebello in a chokehold.
Smith, whose criminal record went back to his teenage years, served multiple prison terms and was wanted for violating parole on a robbery conviction.
"We called for stricter laws after a violent repeat offender shot and killed Officer Arthur Lopez and a citizen, Raymond Facey," Mangano said. "And now we see it's happened in Nassau County again."
Darrell Fuller, an ex-convict on parole since 2010, was charged with shooting Lopez, 29, in October after the officer pulled his car over by the Nassau-Queens border. Fuller is accused of shooting Facey, 58, of Brooklyn, minutes later while stealing his car. The state was responsible for monitoring Smith, who was paroled from state prison, officials said.
For Mangano, as it is for the extended Hofstra community, the Rebello shooting is personal. The county executive has two children at the university who just completed their sophomore and junior years. One had a class with Rebello, Mangano said.
"My wife, my family, our thoughts and prayers are with Andrea's family," he said. "This is a tragic incident. . . . You can't imagine, as a parent, losing a child."
When the investigation is done, he said, he will determine what comes next. "When those facts are in, we'll know whether something could have been done," he said. "Clearly, if we could turn back time, the young lady would still be with us."