A New York Police Department officer charged with killing his autistic son has resigned from the force to try to protect his pension, according to his attorney. Michael Valva, 41, quit his job last week. He had been a transit officer for 15 years.
"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 former officer's lawyer, John LoTurco, told Newsday
Eight-year-old Thomas Alva died from severe hypothermia after allegedly being forced by his father to sleep in an unheated garage on freezing January night with no blanket or pillow, authorities said.
Michael Valva and fiancée Angela Pollina, 43, were both charged with second-degree murder after the boy's Jan. 17 death. Both have pleaded not guilty. They are being held without bail pending trial.
Thomas and his 10-year-old brother, Anthony, were forced to sleep on the cold concrete floor of the family garage, authorities said. Anthony is also autistic.
After calling police about Thomas being non-responsive, the father said his son had slipped and fell on the driveway while waiting for the school bus, authorities said. The child's body temperature had plummeted to 76 degrees, police said.
Surveillance cameras in the Valva home used to monitor the children's behavior also recorded the days before Thomas died, prosecutors said in court during the couple's arraignment.
Footage from the garage showed the brothers shivering as they slept on the freezing floor, Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said.
“They are on cold concrete. There are no pillows, no blankets, no mattress,” Newcombe said in New York court.
On the day he died, Thomas was falling face-first in the garage, and Anthony can be heard asking why his brother was having problems walking, the prosecutor said.
“When you’re washed with cold water and it’s freezing, you get hypothermia,” Pollina answered, Newcombe told the court. Later, when the father is asked why Thomas was falling, the dad replied, “Because he’s cold. Boo f***ing hoo,” Newcombe told the hearing, citing the recording.
Pollina then asks Michael Valva, “What are you doing?” to which he is heard replying, “Suffocating him, that’s what I’m doing,” Newcombe said.
“Take your hands off his mouth,” Pollina then tells him, the prosecutor said. “There are people everywhere," she said, according to Newcombe, who said she was quoting from the audio recording.
Valva's attorney has called the boy's death "a tragic accident."