Family of Hofstra student killed by police may sue

June 11, 2013 5:10:31 PM PDT
The family of a Hofstra University student accidentally killed by a police officer has listed a potential lawsuit among her assets, meaning it may be planning to sue Nassau County and the county police.

The potential lawsuit was mentioned in a document filed in Surrogate's Court in Westchester County, where Andrea Rebello lived. Lawyers for her family have asked the Nassau County attorney to preserve evidence from the shooting in Uniondale.

Rebello, a junior, was shot by a police officer during a May 17 home invasion off campus. The intruder, a prison parolee, also was killed.

The surrogate's court document says Rebello's assets include the "right of action" to sue Nassau and its police officers for "wrongful death, civil rights and negligence." Her only other asset listed is personal property worth less than $1,000.

The document, dated May 31, sought to have Rebello's mother, Nella Rebello, named administrator of the estate for the purpose of bringing the lawsuit. Permission was granted June 6.

The document lists Nella Rebello and her husband, Fernando Rebello, as survivors who would inherit under the law. Andrea Rebello, 21, also had a twin sister, Jessica Rebello.

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said the county has not been notified of any lawsuit. But he said attorneys for the Rebello family have contacted him, requesting that radio communications, video and other documents from the shooting be preserved.

Ciampoli said he has ordered county departments to retain all documents.

Nassau County police Inspector Kenneth Lack said the investigation into the shooting is ongoing and declined to comment on specifics of the case or any potential lawsuit.

Calls to the family's attorneys, Byron Lassin and David Roth, were not immediately returned Tuesday. A call to the Rebello family home in Tarrytown was answered by a woman who said she had no comment.

Nassau County police have not identified the officer who fired the fatal shot. Police said one officer found the intruder holding Rebello in a headlock and threatening to kill her. They said the officer fired when the intruder, 30-year-old Dalton Smith, pointed a gun at him. Smith was hit seven times, Rebello once.

Rebello's godfather said police should have negotiated with Smith before firing. Some friends at her wake said police should have waited for backup.

James Carver, president of the Nassau Patrolman's Benevolent Association, said Smith was the only person responsible for Rebello's death.

Associated Press writer Frank Eltman contributed to this report from Mineola, N.Y.