Andrea Rebello's family petitions for police files
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The family of a Hofstra student accidentally shot and killed in May by a Nassau police officer during an off-campus hostage standoff has asked a judge to order the release of all records related to the case.
The request was filed in Nassau Supreme Court after the family appealed to Nassau police for documents but only received partial records of the May 17 shooting of Andrea Rebello, said David Roth, the family's lawyer.
The county has refused to turn over all but a few records, citing the investigation into the shooting, which also killed Dalton Smith, the Hempstead ex-convict police said took Rebello hostage during a home invasion.
"The NCPD's refusal to provide almost all information requested is unfair and unreasonable," Roth wrote in the Sept. 30 filing in Nassau Supreme Court.
The petition names Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, County Executive Edward Mangano, the police department and the county. It asks a judge to declare the denial of the records "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and erroneous as a matter of law."
Nassau County attorney John Ciampoli said the county would review the petition. "It is puzzling to me why these attorneys are attempting to drag this matter out piecemeal in the courts and have not handled this in a more traditional fashion wherein they bring an action against the county."
In August, the family's lawyers filed papers saying they intended to sue the county for wrongfully causing Rebello's death. No suit has been filed.
Roth said the timing of the lawsuit's filing is irrelevant.
"All we're asking for is what we're entitled to," Roth said.
The family first raised questions about the shooting shortly after police said Smith barged into the Uniondale rental home about a block from campus that Rebello shared with three students, including her twin sister.
Police said Smith demanded money, jewelry and took four students hostage. Responding officers, including Nikolas Budimlic, arrived within minutes of a 911 call. Budimlic confronted Smith as he held Rebello in a headlock, a handgun at her head, police said. Smith pointed the gun at Budimlic, who fired. Smith was hit seven times, and an eighth bullet hit Rebello in the head.
In August, a Nassau judge ruled that the medical examiner must turn over Smith's autopsy report to the family. Lawyers said it was key to get the report to determine how the bullets entered his body, the size and shape of the bullet holes, and other details.
Ciampoli said the family has the report but Roth said it's "incomplete" and is missing numerous files and photographs.
"We've requested that they rethink their position, instead of narrowly construing the judge's order, and turn over the full materials," Roth said.
With Robert Brodsky