DA Clears Officer in Fatal Shooting of Hofstra University Student

The report said the officer "reasonably perceived threats of deadly force"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Prosecutors said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a Hofstra University student by a police officer on Long Island who was responding to an intruder call was legally justified, and that he will not be criminally charged. Pei-Sze Cheng has the story.

    Prosecutors said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a Hofstra University student by a police officer on Long Island who was responding to an intruder call was legally justified, and that he will not be criminally charged.

    The report by the Nassau County District Attorney's Office said the Nassau County officer, identified as Nikolas Budimlic, "reasonably perceived threats of deadly force against himself and others and acted accordingly" in the May 2013 shooting of 21-year-old Andrea Rebello.

    Rebello and the intruder, 30-year-old Dalton Smith, were both shot and killed as he held a gun to her head at the home she shared with other students near the college.

    Budimlic fired eight rounds, seven of which hit the suspect and one that struck Rebello in the head.

    Police said the intruder had gotten into the house through a front door that was left open.

    He had forced Rebello and three other students to an upstairs bedroom, where they collected jewelry, computers, cell phones and cash for him after he demanded money. When one of the students offered to get him more money from the ATM, Smith told her to go to the bank and be back in 10 minutes.

    When the woman left, she called 911.

    Police responded shortly after the 911 call, and another woman ran out of the house, past them, yelling that the gunman was upstairs.

    That's when Budimlic entered the house and encountered Smith shortly after, with Rebello in a headlock, the report says. 

    Smith pointed a gun at the officer, and prosecutors say Budimlic repeatedly told Smith to "put the gun down and let the girl go," according to one of the student witnesses. Smith told the officer, "I will kill her. You put the gun down. Let me go."

    He began to back away toward the rear of the house, using Rebello as a shield. According to the report released Wednesday, which included a description of the officer's account of what happened, the officer noticed Smith "becoming more tense and desperate."

    The officer also believed that Smith was "losing control over Andrea Rebello," his arm loosening around her neck, exposing more of his body, and becoming more off-balance as he continued to yell that he planned to kill her.

    "Officer Budimlic, believing Smith would shoot Andrea Rebello and believing this might be his only opportunity, fired his weapon twice at Smith," the report says.

    After the first two shots, Budimlic saw Smith let go of Rebello while still clutching his gun. Budimlic says he yelled at Rebello to get down, and saw her bend over and lean down toward a set of back stairs.

    Budimlic says Smith was still aiming his gun at him, so he stepped forward and fired four more shots. After Smith fell, the officer fired two more shots at him.

    Budimlic says at that point he still didn't know Rebello had been shot.

    "It is clear that Officer Budimlic's intention was to shoot Smith and not Andrea Rebello," the report concluded. "The tragedy of Andrea Rebello’s death was not caused by any criminal misconduct by Officer Budimlic."

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