The Nassau County police union that represents the officer who tragically shot and killed a Hofstra University student last week is backing him “100 percent” and defending him from those criticizing his actions during the home invasion.
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver expressed his condolences to 21-year-old Andrea Rebello’s family during his first public appearance since the robbery, saying, “[I] can’t imagine the pain that they’re going through right now.”
But, Carver made clear that outsiders should point the finger at 30-year-old Dalton Smith, a career criminal from Hempstead who had recently absconded from parole after his early release from prison in February, instead of the 12-year Nassau police veteran, who hasn’t been identified.
“There’s only person responsible for what happened early Friday morning,” Carver blasted. “And that’s the ex-con that was on parole and while on parole violated his parole and was still out there to commit more violent crimes as he did the other day.”
“There’s some second guessing going on by people who think we should’ve stayed outside the house,” he added. “But our job is to get inside there and make sure we can protect as many people as we can.”
Carver declined to go into the details about the case, citing the ongoing investigation. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is also looking into the incident as it does “every police involved shooting,” a spokesman said. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said that Police Commissioner Thomas Dale “will conduct a complete and thorough investigation of this terrible tragedy,” according to a county spokeswoman.
The parolee, Smith, used Rebello as a human shield as he tried to make it out of the house during a failed robbery attempt Friday around 2:20 a.m. Three of the four occupants, including Rebello’s twin sister, had already made it to safety when Smith put Rebello in a headlock, tucked her close to his chest, and pointed his .9mm at the officer before the officer fired eight shots—one hitting Rebello in the head, according to police.
The officer was taken to the hospital after the incident and has since been interviewed by investigators, Carver said.
Officers are often criticized for their actions despite the unpredictable nature of police work, the union boss noted, adding that fellow officers stand “100 percent” behind their fellow officer.
His voice rising at times, Carver laced into critics that have questioned why the two responding officers didn’t wait for a hostage negotiation team to arrive before going into the dark house after Rebello’s friend, allowed to leave to retrieve Smith more cash from an ATM, called 911.
“When you respond to a call you don’t wait around the block and wait for your backup to come,” he said. “What we’re trained to do is respond immediately there and we take action. That’s what we do.”
“A split second decision will now become second guessed and criticized by those that never went to a police academy, never once responded to a call with a man with a gun,” Carver added.
Rebello’s uncle, Henrique Santos, has been the first close family member to express his frustration with the officer, telling The Journal News, that “he should’ve negotiated,” with Smith.
The uncle also added, “He should have hit the guy with the first shot, not eight.”
Carver noted that he has no problem with the uncle expressing his frustration with police.
“I understand why he second guesses,” he said. “They lost a family member, they lost a loved one and it’s a very emotional time for them. I understand his thoughts in this matter.”
He also called on the parole board and lawmakers to examine how dangerous criminals such as Smith are allowed back onto the streets.
Smith, whose rap sheet dates back 14 years, had served nine of his 10 year sentence for attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon when he was conditionally released on May 5, 2012, according to New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision spokesman Tom Mailey.
He absconded the first time in July 2012 and was arrested.
“On October 5, 2012 an Administrative Law Judge, with independent decision-making authority, gave Smith a 12 month time assessment, with the condition that his parole would be restored if he entered and successfully completed a 90 day drug treatment program,” Mailey said in a statement.
Smith completed the program in February and was released to Post Release Supervision. He failed to make contact with his parole officer on April 23 and then left his approved residence. That’s when police issued a warrant for his arrest.
“A team from Parole started following up on leads, and checking his past residences and other locations he was known to frequent,” Mailey said.
The officer is currently with close friends and family and is on sick leave, Carver said.
Rebello’s friends and family will say their final goodbye at a funeral service in Sleepy Hollow on Wednesday.