The lawyer for the man who shot and killed a popular Albany teacher over the weekend said his client did nothing illegal. Early Sunday morning, Arbor Hill Elementary School teacher David Park went into a suburban Buffalo home. Minutes later, he was shot and killed.
Authorities said Park had been at a friend’s party right next door, left for a while, then returned to the wrong home. The incident woke up the homeowners, David and Julie D’Amico. Their lawyer, Thomas Burton, said they called 911, warned Park they had a gun, and told him to leave.
“When the individual that was in the house kept on coming, my guy fired,” Burton said. “He’s protecting himself and his wife. They were terrorized as to what was happening.”
Burton insisted that New York law protects his clients from using deadly force in this situation.
“You can’t unring the bell here in terms of how sad this is for everyone concerned,” he said.”
Police have not filed any charges against the D’Amicos, and as of Monday, Assistant Chief Timothy Green said they do not expect to file any charges soon because it was still early in the investigation.
“(We’re) not exactly sure how [Park] actually got into the house,” Green said, “and the real big mystery right now is why.” Once the police wraps up its investigation, Green said that would be given to the district attorney, who might then present the case to a grand jury. Burton said he would not be surprised if that happened, but he added it would take weeks before it could. News 10 Legal Expert Tom Carr of Tulley Rinckey, PLLC said even then, based on the information that is available now, it is possible the grand jury might not hand up any indictment at all.
“If the homeowner had no avenue of retreat, and reasonably believed or if a reasonable person in those circumstances would have believed that he faced imminent physical injury or death, then he could respond in kind,” Carr said. He added that New Yorkers are protected by law from using deadly force if they feel their life is in jeopardy.
But Burton said in the case of a burglary or an attempted burglary, homeowners can use a gun regardless. Still, Parks’ friends remembered the teacher on Monday as a great guy, and they said no matter the reason, shooting him should not have been the answer.