by Barrett Seaman
On the Monday following Thanksgiving, the Nassau County Legislature voted to approve a $4.5 million settlement, ending a pair of lawsuits brought by the family of Sleepy Hollow High graduate Andrea Rebello, who was shot to death in May 2013 by a Nassau County police officer attempting to end a hostage situation at Rebello’s apartment in Uniondale, near Hofstra University, where she and her twin sister Jessica were students.
Her death occurred after Dalton Smith, a paroled ex-con, entered the apartment in the early morning hours demanding money. Police were alerted, but when they arrived, Smith took Rebello hostage. Officer Nikolas Budimlic exchanged gunfire with Smith, firing eight bullets, seven of which hit Smith but one of which hit Andrea Rebello in the head, killing her. Smith also died at the scene.
Following an internal investigation, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice exonerated Budimlic, reasoning that his clear intent in firing was not to harm Rebello. Her family disagreed with that ruling. A year later, they filed a wrongful death suit in state court, and the year following that, they filed a federal civil rights suit against Nassau County and its police force. Both suits were settled with the legislature’s agreement to pay the family and Andrea’s estate $4.5 million.
The family did not respond to efforts to reach them.
The Rebello twins were 2010 graduates of Sleepy Hollow High School. Both were majoring in Public Relations at Hofstra, from which Jessica received her BA in 2014, almost a year after her sister’s death.