OZ. PK. MAN BEAT COP MURDER RAP
Acquitted Of Role In Officer’s Slaying
An Ozone Park man suspected of driving the getaway car in a botched robbery that ended in the fatal shooting of a decorated New York City police officer in Cypress Hills was acquitted last Wednesday, Feb. 13, after testifying that he thought he was just giving the other men a ride.
Michael Velez was found not guilty on burglary and murder charges last Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the death of 47-year-old Det. Peter Figoski, who was killed by a single shot to the face in December 2011 while investigating a burglary in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors said Velez and four others plotted the robbery the night before, and were interrupted by officers.
Law enforcement officials, in- cluding Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, were livid over the decision.
“When juries fail to comprehend the monstrous scale of a police officer’s murder, they fail society itself,” Kelly said in a statement. “God help us if other gunmen and their getaway drivers take comfort in these verdicts because when a police officer is murdered society at-large is struck a mortal blow. It’s shameful that the family of Peter Figoski must be crushed again by another incomprehensible verdict.”
The verdict came after Lamont Pride, accused of being the gunman, was convicted of second-degree murder but acquitted of aggravated murder, which accused him of intentionally killing the officer. Pride faces 25 to life in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 28.
Figoski—who was posthumously promoted to detective from the rank of police officer—was fatally shot by Pride while responding to a home invasion on Dec. 12, 2011 at a home on Pine Street between Ridgewood Avenue and Etna Street.
According to law enforcement sources, Pride and a second suspect— Kevin Santos of 85th Street in Ozone Park—forced their way inside the apartment of a local bodega owner, pistolwhipped him, and removed cash and jewelry.
Police were notified as the invasion unfolded, and Figoski and Estrada along with their fellow officers from the 75th Precinct responded to the incident.
Figoski was gunned down by Pride as the invasion suspect ran out of the location.
Santos, who had been tackled by Estrada after allegedly exiting the residence, was taken into custody by police at the scene. Estrada pursued Pride on foot and eventually placed him under arrest.
Santos is awaiting trial along with two other Ozone Park men allegedly inolved in the case: Ariel Tejada of 89th Street and Nelson Moralez of 84th Street.