A police officer "carelessly discharged" his firearm when he fatally shot a college student being held hostage in her off-campus home, the woman's family alleged in a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against Nassau County and its police department.
The family of Hofstra University junior Andrea Rebello accused the department of negligence and said the officer acted "recklessly and unnecessarily" when he fatally shot Rebello and her hostage-taker last year, according to the civil lawsuit filed Friday.
The family also said officers were not properly trained and supervised on how to handle hostage situations. They are seeking unspecified damages from Nassau County and the Nassau County Police Department.
The county's press office did not return a telephone message Friday. An attorney for the Rebello family did not respond to a message.
The lawsuit came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the shooting.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice ruled last month the officer, Nikolas Budimlic, had no option but deadly force. Rice concluded the death of the 21-year-old Tarrytown woman was caused by a gunman breaking into her home with a gun, taking several residents hostage and refusing to surrender to police.
Budimlic, an eight-year veteran of the Nassau Police Department who had previously spent 12 years as a New York City police officer, was among the first officers to respond to a report of an early morning robbery at the house near the Hofstra campus in Hempstead.
After entering the house, the officer encountered Dalton Smith holding Rebello in a headlock. Smith maneuvered down a flight of stairs and was attempting to leave with the young woman through a rear door, yelling expletives at police officers and threatening to shoot the student.
Smith, 30, had been on parole for his involvement in an armed robbery, according to Rice's report. An arrest warrant had been issued for him about three weeks before the fatal shooting occurred. Smith also had prior convictions for attempted robbery and weapons possession.
Days after the report, a judge ordered all evidence from the investigation into the shooting preserved for use in a potential lawsuit.