A judge has ordered authorities to preserve all evidence from the police shooting that killed Hofstra student Andrea Rebello and the gunman who took her hostage as her family prepares to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.
However, State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Brown's order also said Friday that Rebello's family or their experts can't inspect that evidence before their civil action against Nassau County and its police department.
They also can't depose police witnesses to help frame their complaint, Brown ruled.
A spokesman for the county said officials wouldn't comment on the pending litigation. Police officials declined to comment.
Attorney David Roth, who represents the Rebellos, called Brown's order to preserve records, including documents, audio and video recordings and physical evidence, a fair decision.
"He ordered them to preserve the evidence, which is really the most important thing," he said.
The order follows a report from the Nassau district attorney on Wednesday that found Officer Nikolas Budimlic, who fired bullets that killed the 21-year-old student and armed intruder Dalton Smith, was justified in using deadly force on May 17, 2013.
Authorities said Smith, 30, of Hempstead, barged into the off-campus Uniondale rental home Rebello shared with her twin sister and other students, holding them at gunpoint while demanding money and valuables.The district attorney's report said Budimlic opened fire after confronting Smith in the house as Smith used Rebello as a human shield, switched between pointing his gun at Rebello and at Budimlic, and threatened to kill them both.