After a terrifying home invasion early Friday, both Hofstra student Andrea Rebello, 21, and suspect Dalton Smith, 30, lay dead — and later, it was confirmed, both had been killed by police bullets.
Now Nassau Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deadly standoff, and police and law enforcement experts say that the unnamed officer, a veteran of the force, faced a horrible choice when he was forced to fire on Smith and accidentally struck Rebello.
According to Nassau cops, the Hofstra student shot in the home invasion grabbed and put in a headlock by Smith when police entered the unlocked home.
As officers arrived on scene, Smith repeatedly threatened to shoot at cops as he held the gun to Andrea Rebello’s head before taking aim at cops.
Several shots were fired, killing Smith — and Rebello, who was also struck in the head in the ensuing gunfire.
After the incident, Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale traveled to Tarrytown, New York to speak with Rebello’s parents personally and explain the circumstances of their daughter’s death.
Dale later said:
“I felt obligated as a police commissioner and as a parent to inform them as soon as all the forensic results were completed.”
Michele Galietta is a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where officers are trained for precisely the type of situation in which the unlucky Nassau cop found himself embroiled Friday.
Galietta says that while cops may make the correct decision when it comes to firing on a suspect, the outcome isn’t always good:
“The big question is, how do you know, when someone’s pointing a gun at you, whether you should keep talking to them, or shoot? That’s what makes the job of an officer amazingly difficult.”
“What we’re asking the cop to anticipate is, ‘What is going on in the suspect’s mind at the moment?’ … We’re always trying to de-escalate, to contain a situation, but the issue of safety comes in first, and that’s the evaluation the officer has to make.”
A funeral for the Hofstra student killed by police gunfire is scheduled for later this week in Sleepy Hollow, near her hometown of Tarrytown.