By Colleen Long
A man convicted of firing the shot in a botched robbery that killed a New York City police officer was sentenced Thursday to 45 years to life in prison.
Lamont Pride was convicted this month of second-degree murder in the death of Officer Peter Figoski; he was acquitted of a more serious murder charge.
The courtroom was packed with Figoski's family and fellow officers. The assembled also included relatives of other officers lost in the line of duty: the father and sister of Alain Schaberger, who was shoved to his death while answering a domestic violence call in 2011, and the mother of Russel Timoshenko, who was shot during a 2007 traffic stop.
The victim's four daughters spoke, saying he was taken from them too soon and will never walk them down the aisle or hold his grandchildren.
"When our father died, a part of us died, too," 15-year-old Corinne Figowski said.
Pride said nothing about the Figoski family but apologized to his own family.
Brooklyn prosecutors said Pride and four others plotted to rob a small-time drug dealer on Dec. 12, 2011. A second suspect, Michael Velez, accused of driving the getaway car, was acquitted of all charges.
Pride did not deny that he fired a shot from a semi-automatic pistol that killed Figoski, who was responding to the scene. But he claimed he didn't mean to do it — the gun just went off when he fell. Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub had sought to show that Pride intentionally fired at the officer because he was cornered at the only exit and had no other way out. Jurors, after deliberating about 10 hours, found him not guilty of intentionally killing the 22-year veteran officer.
The prosecution's star witness was one of the suspects, Ariel Tejada, who testified that Velez knew what was happening and wanted in on the crime. But he didn't say whether he saw Pride fire.
The men broke into a shabby basement apartment in a building that belonged to the uncle of suspected mastermind Nelson Morales. But the uncle didn't know what was happening and called 911 when he heard a commotion downstairs. Officers arrived and surprised the robbers, who pretended also to be victims until they were later arrested, prosecutors said. Morales and a fourth suspect, Kevin Santos are awaiting trial.
Figoski was posthumously promoted to detective.