July 16--The Town of Hempstead plans to fire a public safety officer accused of driving drunk on the job and killing a pedestrian crossing Hempstead Turnpike.
The suspect, Robert Core, 42, of Hempstead Village, will be fired as soon as he can be served with legal documents, town spokesman Mike Deery said Saturday.
"The actions he took the other evening while intoxicated on the job justify his dismissal," Deery said.
Core is charged with vehicular manslaughter and DWI in the Thursday night accident.
The victim, Eddie A. Cotto, 50, of Lindenhurst, was jaywalking when he was hit at 11:20 p.m. near Franklin Avenue in East Meadow, across from Nassau University Medical Center. Police said Core continued driving with Cotto clinging to the hood for more than 150 feet before the unemployed house painter fell off the patrol vehicle.
The town initially indicated it would suspend Core without pay, but Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town Board decided late Friday to terminate him.
"The supervisor and the council members extend their profound condolences to the friends and family of the victim, keeping those affected by the tragic event in their thoughts and prayers," the town said in a statement.
Diane Ware, Cotto's fiancee, applauded the town's decision.
Core's attorney, Lloyd Nadel of Mineola, said Hempstead was jumping the gun.
"The town should wait and see what the result of the case is," Nadel said. "Right now, it's just an allegation and nothing is proven."
Cotto had gone to the hospital because he "wasn't feeling right" and needed help dealing with stress, Ware said.
Cotto left the hospital against medical advice, according to court records. A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on the case Saturday, citing patient confidentiality and privacy regulations.
Nadel said he planned to investigate the circumstances of Cotto's hospital visit and his mental state at the time of the accident.
A preliminary breath test taken at the scene showed Core had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. The results of a voluntary blood sample taken from the suspect during a brief hospital stay should be ready in three to four days, said Nassau County Homicide Det. Gary Ferrucci.
Core stated on a police blood-testing form that he takes "medications for a personal condition."
Police are also examining how fast Core was driving at the time of the accident, although Ferrucci said it's too early in the investigation to make a determination.
Funeral arrangements for Cotto are still pending, Ware said.
With Keith Herbert and Matt Chayes