Sources: Nassau police look at procedures in wake of Andrea Rebello's death
Nassau police are considering whether their communications procedures need be revamped in the aftermath of the fatal accidental shooting by an officer of a home-invasion hostage, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the internal review.
Police have said it does not appear the veteran officer knew he was responding to a hostage situation May 17 when he entered the home on California Avenue in Uniondale that was shared by Hofstra students.
Officer Nikolas Budimlic shot and killed Hofstra University student Andrea Rebello, 21, and ex-convict Dalton Smith, 30, of Hempstead, who had entered to rob the students, after the parolee held Rebello as a human shield and pointed his gun at the officer, police have said.
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Investigators want to know whether Budimlic, based on the radio transmissions, should have known he was walking into a hostage incident and whether communications protocols worked, said the sources, who asked not to named.
"Whether or not he heard" what the dispatcher said -- "that he [Smith] was armed and with [a woman in the bedroom] is a question," one of the sources said. "They've got to look at everything. That includes whether . . . [communications] worked the way they're supposed to and whether anything needs adjustment."
Hostage negotiators were not called to the scene, though specialized officers -- including those from the highly trained Emergency Services Unit -- had been dispatched, the department has said.
In response to questions about the Uniondale shooting probe, Nassau Police Department spokesman Kenneth Lack said the department would not be releasing any additional information until the investigation is complete. A spokesman had no comment on the communications review.
The department has refused Newsday's requests for copy of the 911 telephone call and a description of its procedures for hostage situations.
Similar procedural manuals for other departments, including Suffolk police, state that an officer facing a hostage situation should call for negotiators, confine the perpetrator and "maintain firearms discipline."
In the recording of the dispatcher's transmission alerting officers of the Uniondale situation with a gunman and the 911 caller's friend in an upstairs bedroom of the house, an unidentified male voice asks: "Headquarters, where's the subject, with the complainant or at the house?"
"We're trying to ascertain that now," the female Nassau police dispatcher answers.
Seconds later the woman adds that "the subject is in the house. He's in the top right bedroom with the complainant's friend. The subject has a silver handgun."
Budimlic, who authorities said was treated at an area hospital for trauma after the shooting, remains on sick leave. He could not be reached for comment.