Captain Frank LOVES him some investigations! Not quite sharp enough (unlike most people) to understand what his eyes tell him. He needs someone else to tell him what he sees... A Nassau County police officer shot an unarmed man in the back. Another intentionally ran down an unarmed man with his squad car, costing him a leg. Still another shot an unarmed cabdriver after a night of drinking off duty. In each case, department investigators reviewed the use of deadly force and reached the same conclusion within a day: The officer's actions were justified. A Newsday investigation into the Nassau County Police Department's use of deadly force found cases where officers fired on suspects after incorrectly believing they were armed, shot people later convicted of no crime at all, and took action that a jury would later call excessive, resulting in one civil settlement of $15 million. Spoiler Yet each time, Nassau police's deadly force investigators validated the officer's actions. The department confirmed Newsday's findings in acknowledging that since at least 2006 -- as the number of officers shooting suspects rose sharply -- Nassau's deadly force investigators have never found that their officers were wrong when they felt the need to seriously injure or kill someone. Though the department spokesman, Insp. Kenneth Lack, said many uses of police deadly force are subject to an additional, more thorough investigation by Nassau's homicide squad, he confirmed that those detectives also had not found a use of deadly force unjustified. Nassau police denied Newsday's public-records requests for reports about its deadly force investigations by citing New York's 50-a law, which lets law enforcement agencies keep records used to judge individual officers' performance hidden from the public. While some of the incidents reviewed by Newsday show that Nassau's officers have used force in what appear to be appropriate circumstances, a number of cases raise questions about the use of deadly force and whether the department conducts thorough investigations into its officers behind this cloak of secrecy. Police-involved shootings resulted in at least one recent high-profile tragedy. Hofstra University student Andrea Rebello, 21, was being held hostage in her off-campus apartment on May 17 by Dalton Smith, an armed intruder who was demanding money. Police Officer Nikolas Budimlic arrived at the scene and would later report that Smith pointed a gun at him. Budimlic fired eight shots, killing both Smith and Rebello. A police source familiar with the investigation into the case said the shooting of both individuals had been ruled justified. The Nassau County Police Department has not made the ruling by the shooting team public. Rebello's family has filed a notice of claim indicating they will sue Nassau County for causing her death. According to police, Rebello's shooting was one of eight police-involved shootings this year. There have been 36 such shooting incidents by Nassau police officers in the past four years, an increase from the 10 incidents from 2006 through 2009, according to annual statistics the department provided to Newsday. As in the Rebello case, an incident can involve more than one person. Suffolk Police Department officers had 13 police-involved shootings since 2006, including five this year, records show. In the only public examination into how the Nassau police department uses and investigates deadly force, Newsday reviewed news reports, civil rights lawsuits and criminal court files to uncover information on 30 incidents since 2001. The newspaper also obtained the department's own confidential deadly force investigative reports from three of the cases -- two shootings and an incident where an officer ran over a suspect with his car. Among the findings from the 30 incidents: The department has blamed the increase in police shootings on "the number of guns on the streets," but police recovered a firearm, BB gun or pellet gun in only 12 cases. At least twice, an officer shot an unarmed suspect who police said was reaching for his waistband. Nassau police officers have shot at someone in a car at least 10 times since 2006. The investigative reports obtained in two of those cases did not note that, with strict exceptions, department protocols forbid firing at a moving vehicle. More than 20 suspects have faced serious felony charges, ranging from assault to attempted murder of a police officer, based on officer accounts of deadly force incidents. But records show in at least six cases, those felony charges were either dropped, reduced to misdemeanors or resulted in a sentence of time served or probation. Excluding those who were killed, at least three targets of deadly force were not convicted of a crime after the incident. Seven more targets of Nassau police shootings are awaiting trial. The three confidential deadly force reports included definitive statements that witnesses later did not corroborate with sworn testimony. In one case, deadly force investigators made several conclusions later contradicted by internal affairs investigators and a crime scene analyst. The deadly force investigators have also missed on basic facts, such as the number of bullets fired by the officer, and failed to interview witnesses who could have provided another version of events. At least three times, investigators justified the use of deadly force in instances that a civil jury later found excessive or resulted in a settlement, including one where the victim was paid $15 million and another jury verdict in June where damages have not yet been decided. Five more civil suits stemming from police-involved shootings are ongoing. Only 26 deadly force incidents can be accounted for since 2006, fewer than the 46 that the Nassau police department reported over that time. If the department's statistics are accurate, there are approximately 20 deadly force cases where there is no public record -- including a police department press release -- that it happened. The Nassau police department acknowledged it was not tracking the outcome of its deadly force investigations when Newsday filed a public records request seeking the information, and the department initially said it would be too time-intensive to determine how often officers had shot someone. Lack ultimately said he had to go through paper reports by hand to discover that the department's deadly force investigators had not ruled a shooting unjustified since 2006. Still, the department has been unable to provide Newsday with accurate deadly force statistics, at one point stating they could only determine how many bullets officers had fired each year and not the number of incidents. When a reporter pointed out that the department's bullet count was incorrect, Lack provided overall incident numbers that also proved to be wrong. Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale declined requests to be interviewed. The current and former police officers named in this story did not return a message left with the department seeking comment. Lack said Nassau is "actually a very restrained department," but declined to discuss specific cases in detail or explain the department's flawed statistics. Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, called the department's inability to provide basic statistics "amazing." "The use of deadly force is a signature issue for police," O'Donnell said. "You have to be doing just the very best gathering of information and analysis of information." Geoffrey P. Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminology and criminal-justice professor and one of the nation's leading experts on police use of deadly force, reviewed two of Nassau's post-shooting investigations at Newsday's request. Alpert said the reports are "full of boilerplate language" and lack key details. "Officers fearing for their lives, cars driving directly toward officers -- where is the mention that the officer couldn't step out of the way or take other action?" Alpert said. "Why was the officer in fear of his life? These are not very detailed reports at all. "What you have here is a really thick blue curtain," Alpert said. "You've got a situation where cops pretty much have immunity in violating laws if this is the sort of investigation they're doing." C'mon Frank. Let's talk Investigations!