Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer and professor of law and police studies at John Jay College, said the crucial issue may be whether or not police had deemed it a hostage situation. If so, he said, there are protocols police follow to buy time, slow down, isolate and assess.
But O’Donnell said the officers may have had few options because of “an eyeball to eyeball confrontation between the officer and the offender.”
“It may have been too fluid to deteriorate for the officers to do anything else,” O’Donnell said. “It underscores that there’s no two of these that are exactly alike.”
Police tactical manuals are meant to assist officers in making the best decision possible, but in the end, “they’re not 100 percent foolproof,” Galietta said. “In a situation like that, you can follow procedure, and it doesn’t mean it comes out perfectly.”
Hofstra student John Kourtessis told the New York Post that he’d gone to a bar with Rebello and a few other friends to celebrate the end of school. When they got back to Rebello’s house, she asked him to move his car and he went upstairs to get his keys.
When he came back down, he said, Smith was there. He said Smith kept talking about “the Russian guy,” insisting the house’s residents owed a Russian man money and that he was outside waiting.
“He was saying … that he just needed us to cooperate. I said, ‘Listen, we have all this money here.’”
Kourtessis said the students offered Smith computers, jewelry and other items from the house but that Smith kept demanding more money.
The officer who fired the shots is an eight-year NYPD veteran and has been with Nassau County police for 12 years.
He is now out on sick leave, Azzata said.
Procedurally, the Nassau County district attorney would determine whether an officer’s use of deadly force was justified, O’Donnell said. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said Monday it is monitoring the ongoing police investigation.