Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2013

Officer Killer Gets 45 Years


A 28-year-old man convicted of killing a New York City police officer was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 45 years to life in prison during an emotional hearing in which family members described how their lives had been changed forever.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus told Lamont Pride he would show him no leniency for firing the shot that killed Officer Peter Figoski during a botched robbery of a drug dealer, handing down the longest jail time allowed under law.

"I want to make it crystal clear that it is my intention that the defendant serve this sentence and never get out of prison," Judge Marrus said.

In an orange prison jumpsuit, Mr. Pride turned and looked at the officer's relatives several times as they spoke about their pain. But given a chance to speak, he offered no remorse to them.

"I just want to apologize to my family for what they are going through right now," Mr. Pride said. "I want to let my two brothers know...as long as I got you in my corner till the end, I am going to stand tall."

A jury convicted Mr. Pride in February of burglary, aggravated manslaughter and second-degree murder—a lesser charge that was a blow to prosecutors who had argued Mr. Pride intended to fire a stolen 9mm handgun at the 22-year NYPD veteran.

The jury sided with defense attorneys who argued Mr. Pride fired the gun accidentally when Mr. Figoski—who spent his career working the night shift in one of the city's most dangerous precincts—responded to the burglary inside a basement apartment in Cypress Hills.

Mr. Pride was on trial with Michael Velez, 22, who was acquitted by a separate jury. The two were allegedly part of a five-man crew accused of concocting a plan to rob a known drug dealer on Dec. 12, 2011. Two others are scheduled to go on trial later in March. The fifth struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against the others.

In a courtroom so packed that uniformed officers spilled into the hallway, Mr. Figoski's mother, ex-wife and four daughters, ages 15 to 21, made tearful pleas to the judge, describing their continued suffering and pain.

"We have to force ourselves to do things to make our father proud," said 15-year-old Corinne Figoski, reading a statement shared with her three sisters. "When our father died, a part of us died too. We forget what it is to be happy."

"We never envisioned that one person in one moment, in one night can change our lives forever."

His mother Mary Ann Figoski, 79, recalled her youngest child as "happy go lucky," "affectionate" and "curious about everything." She said he studied to be a draftsman before ultimately deciding to become a police officer.

"I will never again get that hug and kiss that I so desperately want from my son," she said. "Lamont Pride bought the gun loaded it and kept his finger on the trigger. Peter was an obstacle to him, so he eliminated him and fled into the night."

Mr. Figoski's ex-wife Paulette Figoski described him as a doting father.

"Our souls are broken and I can't bear the pain of seeing my children hurting so much," she said. "He was truly one of the best dads anyone could ever want and they will forever feel the emptiness in their hearts."

Judge Marrus commended the daughters, briefly stepping out of his role to tell them: "I speak as a father and not as a judge, that your father would have been very proud of you today."