Officer pleads guilty in deadly DWI case

September 9, 2010 3:49:19 AM PDT
Officer Andrew Kelly plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Kelly's attorney said his client did a lot of soul searching and wanted both families to avoid a painful and long trial.

But he said the most important thing for Kelly today wasn't his plea. It was getting forgiveness.

As Kelly stepped away from the defense table and walked towards the courtroom doors, he paused, looked down with anxiety, then moved in for handshake, an apology and a few tears.

"They shook hands, and I heard the reverend tell Andrew, 'I forgive you, we forgive you, my family forgives you. And I don't want any more pain to be caused,'" defense attorney Arthur Aidala said. "Andrew said that was more generous than [he] ever imagined, and he had tears in his eyes."

It was just a brief exchange, but enough to erase any anger of a grieving father towards the man responsible for the death of his only daughter.

"He apologizes with me, and then I accept his apology, so I believe he was sorry for what he done," Pastor Varius Valnord said.

But in open Brooklyn Supreme court Wednesday, Kelly was a man of only a few words.

The seven-year veteran, who was assigned to the 68th Precinct in Brooklyn, did admit he had been drinking beer the night he killed 33-year-old Vionique Valnord.

She was hailing a cab when the off-duty NYPD officer plowed into her in his Jeep last September in the Flatlands.

"I miss her a lot, I hope she is in a safe place," Seni Kassime, her widower, said.

Kelly struck a deal just a week before the case was set to go to trial and plead guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter.

His sentence was 90 days in Rikers Island. Initially, he faced up to seven years in prison.

"Well, the month is not the matter, but he take responsibility. He won't no longer be a policeman anymore," Valnord said.

Kelly resigned from the NYPD last Friday, but legal action is still pending. The family says there was a cover up when Kelly refused a breathalyzer and it the NYPD took seven hours to draw his blood.

"The civil litigation against the city and this police officer for damages, for wrongful death, will move forward," attorney Sanford Rubenstein said.

Kelly may only end up serving 60 days of that sentence. He will remain on probation for five years, go to an alcohol treatment program, and must install an ignition interlock system on his car.