CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (AP) — A New York Police Department officer and his fiancee have been charged with murder in the death of the officer’s 8-year-old son, who authorities say was left in a garage overnight in freezing temperatures.
Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, were arrested on second-degree murder charges, Suffolk County police said.
The child was allegedly in a garage overnight as temperatures dropped to under 20 degrees (minus 6 Celsius), Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at a briefing.
When police arrived the boy’s body temperature was 72 degrees (22 Celsius), Hart said, and Valva was performing CPR, according to Newsday.
The child, Thomas Valva, was pronounced dead at a hospital on Jan. 17 after police responded to a report that he had fallen in the driveway of a home in Center Moriches, a community in Long Island. Authorities found the elder Valva performing CPR on his son in the basement.
An autopsy was ordered to determine how he died.
The medical examiner ruled the boy’s death a homicide and found that hypothermia was a major contributing factor, Hart said.
The child’s mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, told Newsday that the second-grader was a “loving, happy boy, always looking for adventure, loving playing outside.”
Zubko-Valva, 36, a correction officer on Rikers Island who lives in Valley Stream, said Thomas had a mild form of autism.
He “had such an amazing good heart,” she said. “Everybody who knew him, they instantly fell in love with him. He was just a joy of everybody’s life.”
Valva, who joined the NYPD in 2005 and is assigned to transit, has been suspended without pay, the department said.
The defendants were awaiting arraignment. There was no immediate information on attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.