Confronting a desperate criminal who has a loaded gun is the worst case scenario a cop can face. The split-second decision to shoot will haunt him for years — and when it ends in death, especially an innocent person and a hostage no less, there are no easy answers.
The first cops who arrived at the house on California Avenue had no idea there were hostages inside, just a man with a gun. Sources say Officer Nicholas Budimlic raced inside as Jessica Rebello ran out. Her twin sister, Andrea was on the second floor with a gun pressed to her head.
The 42-year-old cop with 19 years on the job became trapped inside. Smith, a 30-year-old ex-con armed with a loaded gun and wanted on a parole violation, forced his way into the off campus house in the early morning hours fully knowing that students were home. One young woman sent by Smith to an ATM to get cash, instead called the cops who rushed to the scene in minutes.
It’s a situation people often believe should have been handled differently, but police experts would point out that Smith kept a loaded gun to the victim’s head and used her as a human shield. They say when Smith aimed at the cop – who had no room to retreat or take cover – training kicked in and the officer fired. Tragically, a promising young woman’s life was taken.
The officer, a family man and the father of two young children including a daughter will never forget his actions. He will question himself forever. It’s very important to also remember that Dalton Smith eventually holds all moral responsibility of what happened inside that home.