NYPD officer dies from wounds

December 12, 2011 7:46:25 PM PST
A NYPD officer shot in the face and critically wounded while responding to a robbery in Brooklyn has died.

The officer died at Jamaica Hospital hours after the shooting at around 2:15 a.m. Monday.

The officer was shot inside a home in Pine Street in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn.

He was believed to have been wearing a bullet proof vest, but was hit in the face by one shot.

The officer was identified as 47-year-old Officer Peter Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the force, of West Babylon, Suffolk County. Officials said he sustained shattered bones and severed arteries.

"I did meet with his parents when they came in (to the hospital) and had to tell his mother and father how serious the condition was. At that point he had not yet passed away, but I think it's fair to say nobody had any expectations that he would make it. It was a very serious wound," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Figoski's partner, Officer Glenn Estrada, sustained a sprained shoulder while arresting a suspect.

Lamont Pride, 27, is under arrest. He has five unsealed prior arrests. Authorities are still searching for his accomplice


An illegal semi-automatic weapon was recovered

Pride was released last month after being arrested in Brooklyn. At the time, there was an outstanding warrant against him in North Carolina.

According to the Brooklyn DA's office, Lamont Pride was arrested at his Coney Island apartment on November 3rd and charged with two misdemeanors for drug possession and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $2,500 bail.

A NY State Court spokesman said at the time, there was an outstanding warrant against Pride in North Carolina. It called for Pride's extradition if arrested in the state of North Carolina only. It was amended a few days later to be a full extradition warrant. By then, he had already been released.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne released a statement saying, "Pride was arrested in NYC on Nov 3 on a crack cocaine charge. We ran him and found he was wanted in NC on weapon assault charges but the NC warrant specified "extradite within the state of North Carolina only." NYPD contacted NC authorities and suggested that they change the warrant to extradite him since we had him in custody on charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell, a felony. NC initially said no. At arraignment, Pride was RORed. On Nov 8 - after apparently reconsidering - NC amended the warrant to allow for extradition from NY. He was in the wind by then. A fugitive task force hunted unsuccessfully for him. Pride then failed to appear for his Nov 15 hearing in NY, for which another warrant was issued."

Officers continued to search for at least one more suspect.

That man was described as Hispanic, 5'9" to 5'10" tall, wearing grey sweatpants, white sneakers and a black hoody. He fled on foot north on Pine Street, investigators said.

Mayor Bloomberg said the loss of Officer Figoski is tremendous for his family and for the City.

"He had four daughters.... He has a brother who is a retired NYPD police officer as well. So it's a family that dedicated its lives to making this city safe, and it's just such a tragedy," he said.

Figoski had more than 200 arrests in his career and had been awarded 12 medals, including 8 for exceptional police duty.

He was part of a backup team of officers who responded to a report of a break-in at the basement apartment, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The owner of the two-story, who lives on the first and second floors and rents out the barely-finished basement apartment, called 911 at about 2:15 a.m.

The two suspects had tried to flee through the back of the long, narrow apartment, but they couldn't find a way out and were hiding in a side room as officers walked past them and started to interview the tenant and a neighbor. They were trying to escape through the front when they ran into Figoski, police said. He was shot once.

Estrada was struggling with the second suspect in front of the house when he heard the shot and watched the suspect running away. He chased after him for blocks before capturing him, Kelly said. Estrada was treated for a shoulder injury sustained during the struggle.

"I want to commend Officer Estrada, who had the presence of mind to focus on the man with the gun, and the courage to chase him down and capture him," Kelly said.

The two had been partners for three years, since Figoski switched to the midnight shift. Both have spent their careers in the 75th Precinct. Estrada is also decorated and has 15 years on the job.

Police found a silver, semi-automatic pistol under a parked car near where Pride was arrested. There was one round discharged from the weapon, and the shell casing had jammed inside the gun. Kelly said the gun had ten other live grounds and the gunfire could have been worse.

Police found a second gun stashed in a microwave at the apartment. They believe the weapon, a revolver that wasn't loaded, belongs to the at-large suspect, described as a male, Hispanic, mid-20s, wearing a grey, hooded sweat shirt and light. Police later released a photo culled from a nearby laundry that showed the suspect in short sleeves despite the cold winter weather.

Figoski, 47, of West Babylon, N.Y., was divorced and has four daughters. Carolyn, 16, and Corrine, 14, are in high school, and Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18, are in college. His brother Robert Figoski is a retired police officer, and his brother-in-law is currently an officer.

Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for gun control, said the gun was purchased illegally and reiterated his plea for stricter gun laws around the country. New York has some of the strictest nationwide.

"These guns are bought and used to kill people, and you saw that this morning," Bloomberg said.

It was the second time this year an NYPD officer was killed in the line of duty. Officer Alain Schaberger fell nine feet off a stoop and broke his neck while responding to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn in March. The man accused of pushing him has pleaded not guilty to murder.

The shooting Monday recalled the 2007 death of Officer Russel Timoshenko. He was shot twice in the face during a traffic stop in Brooklyn and later died. His partner, Herman Yan, was saved by his bullet-resistant vest.