A New York City police officer has been charged in the death of his own 8-year-old son, Thomas Valva.
According to Newsday, the little boy passed away after being forced to sleep in a freezing garage at his father’s Center Moriches home.
The 41-year-old police officer’s attorney states that he has worked for the force for 15 years; he resigned from the department on Wednesday. Before he left, he was suspended from the NYPD without pay. He was arrested back in January and made an appearance in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday.
“He voluntarily resigned today,” said Valva’s attorney John LoTurco during a brief status conference. “He executed paperwork in that regard today, which protects his benefits and his pension. There’s no admission of any wrongdoing. It allows him to forgo any disciplinary hearing, and in exchange, he will no longer receive any salary or any future benefits.”
The boy reportedly died on Jan. 17; Michael Valva, 41, and his fiancee Angela Pollina, 42, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and child endangerment. Thomas was a third-grader at East Moriches Elementary School who was on the autism spectrum. The boy ended up dying from hypothermia after police said Valva and Pollina made him sleep in an unheated garage as temperatures dropped to 19 degrees. Newsday reports that Pollina’s attorney waived her court appearance Wednesday.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Valva performing what appeared to be CPR on the boy in the basement. Valva told police that Thomas had fallen in the driveway while waiting for the school bus and knocked himself out unconscious. Prosecutors say Valva said he’s “been through more stressful things than this” after Thomas was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Suffolk Supreme Court Justice William Condon on Wednesday set a Dec. 16 hearing date to determine the admissibility at trial of statements that authorities allege Michael Valva made to police regarding his son’s death, Newsday’s Nicole Fuller writes. Thomas’ birth mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, attended Wednesday’s conference and said while Valva’s attorney tries to get statements Michael made to police thrown out, there is other evidence in the case that points to Valva and Pollina’s negligence. She mentioned Thomas’ 76.1 body temperature when he was brought to the hospital.
“His attorney’s going to try to challenge the statements made by Michael to the police ….,” said Zubko-Valva, speaking outside the Riverhead courthouse. “The first original statement he made in regards to Thomas’ death was Tommy fell in the driveway and hit his head . . . then he changed his statement.” Pollina and Valva’s attorneys now have until Nov. 18 to file motions in the case after Condon granted a two-week extension request from LoTurco and Pollina’s attorney Matthew Tuohy to present defense motions in the case.