Mayor blasts judge who freed alleged cop killer

December 15, 2011 2:14:12 PM PST
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rarely loses his cool in public, but after the murder of a NYPD officer, Bloomberg is laying blame at the feet of a Brooklyn judge.

The mayor is stepping up his crusade to get illegal guns off the street, all while he is cranking up the heat on the judge for letting career criminal Lamont Pride walk free. It's obvious, says Bloomberg, that had she done her job right, Pride would have still been behind bars instead of facing first-degree murder charges in the death of Officer Peter Figoski.

"A judge here in New York not only didn't put him behind bars, didn't even think it was appropriate for bail," Bloomberg said.

Boomberg blasted New York Criminal Court Judge Evelyn Laporte, who freed Pride on his own recognizance back in November. Despite the prosecutor's warning of Pride's outstanding warrant in North Carolina for a shooting and his long rap sheet, Laporte said, "I'm going to set bail."

"Common sense says don't let him off until you make one phone call," Bloomberg said. "It's not a lot of work to do to protect the public. It was not done, plain and simple."

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are also red hot over the continuing lack of federal action to stop illegal gun sales on the internet. Now, he is calling on New Yorkers to give Congress a message.

"You damn well better do something," Bloomberg said. "We are not going to have more Peter Figoskis. If they do, shame on everybody that could stop this."

The City Council held a hearing Thursday morning on the sale of illegal guns, one day after the results of the first-ever national investigation into illegal online gun sales were made public.

The hearing was planned a month ago, but is now more poignant after Figoski's death.

City Council member Peter Vallone and District Attorney Cy Vance started off their remarks by giving their condolences to the Figoski family. The public safety committee discussed pending federal gun legislation and the potential impact to the gun laws in New York City.

It opposes a bill currently in the House that would allow concealed handgun carriers from other states to carry their weapons in all states, which would override New York State laws. The public safety committee also discussed how it could support pending legislation that would require background checks for gun sales between private sellers and at gun shows.

Vance said in 2010, 378 people in Manhattan were arraigned criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. A third of the arrests were men and women under the age of 18.

As for the investigation into illegal gun sales online, Bloomberg says that private investigators hired by New York City found that most private gun sellers they approached online illegally agreed to sell weapons to buyers who said they couldn't pass background checks.

Among the guns purchased in the undercover operation announced Wednesday was a model identical to the one police say was used to kill Figoski.

Bloomberg says investigators used Craigslist and other websites to contact 125 online gun sellers in 14 states. So-called private sellers aren't required to conduct a background check before selling a gun, but it's illegal for them to sell to someone they believe wouldn't pass a background check.

The mayor says 77 of the 125 sellers agreed to sell to buyers who said they couldn't pass a background check.

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