LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK: The NYPD officer who allegedly beat his autistic 8-year-old son and let him freeze to death in a Long Island garage has reportedly quit the police force. A police spokeswoman confirmed that 41-year-old Michael Valva resigned on Wednesday, October 28 after serving 15 years with the NYPD, the New York Daily News reported.
Valva and his fiancee Angela Pollina are charged with the murder of his son Thomas, who froze to death on January 17 after his father forced him to spend the night in the garage of their Center Moriches home. According to the report, the child’s temperature had dropped to 76 degrees. Speaking to the Daily News, Valva’s lawyer John LoTurco said his client voluntarily left the NYPD to save what he’d already contributed towards his pension. “The NYPD offered him a resignation without a disciplinary hearing, and that allowed him not to admit any culpability and just resign, allowed him to keep his pension. But in exchange, there’s no salary going forward,” LoTurco said. “And they didn’t have to pursue any disciplinary hearing.”
LoTurco added that he plans to ask the court to hold separate trials for Valva and Pollina since “their defense strategies will put them at odds with each other.” Furthermore, he is also hoping to suppress some of Valva’s statements to investigators, the lawyer revealed.
A special grand jury investigation into little Thomas’ death was launched by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office after it emerged that child welfare workers, judges, and lawyers had reportedly ignored two years of warnings that Valva was abusing his son, including “throwing him down the stairs, locking him in a bedroom without a bathroom, depriving him of food, beating him with closed fists, and pulling hair from his head,” per WABC-TV.
Valva had called 911 on the morning of January 17 to report that his son had fallen while waiting for his school bus outside their Long Island, New York home, and was unconscious. Emergency medical personnel who responded to the scene transported him to Long Island Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, and it emerged that he had not died of an accident. Police said he had suffered head and facial injuries that were “not consistent with his father’s account,” pointing out that his body temperature, which was 76 when he was found, indicated he had been dead for a few hours before Valva called 911.
A medical examiner ruled his death a homicide and stated hypothermia was a factor, leading to Valva and Pollina’s arrest. During subsequent investigations, detectives uncovered home security cameras that the couple used to monitor Thomas, who was autistic, and their five other children, and which had recorded the young boy’s disturbing last few days alive.
One camera found in the garage was labeled “kids room” and two nights before Thomas’ death, recorded him and his brother Anthony, 10, shivering as they slept on the freezing garage floor. On the day of his death, Thomas allegedly kept falling over and “face-planting” on the garage’s concrete floor, prompting Anthony to ask, “Why can’t Thomas walk?”
“When you’re washed with cold water and it’s freezing, you get hypothermia,” Pollina told him in an audio recording prosecutors played in court. “You know why he’s falling,” Valva responded, mocking his son. “Because he’s cold. Boo f***ing hoo.”