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5 men arraigned in NYPD officer's shooting death

December 13, 2011 8:12:23 PM PST
Five men accused of being involved in the cold-blooded slaying of a New York Police Department officer have been arraigned on murder charges and ordered held without bail.

Shooting suspect Lamont Pride appeared in court shackled late Tuesday to face a first-degree murder charge. He didn't speak. Four co-defendants later were arraigned on second-degree murder charges.

Arguing for no bail, prosecutor Kenneth Taub said the five men had plotted to "commit a home invasion of a small-time marijuana dealer." He referred to Pride as the "muscle of the organization" and said the defendant "made a choice to end the officer's life rather than be arrested."

Another of the defendants, Nelson Morales, was described as the mastermind behind the plot.

None of the defendants or their attorneys spoke in the courtroom, which was packed with colleagues of the slain police officer, or said anything to reporters after the arraignment.

According to police, 27-year-old Lamont Pride says the shooting of Officer Peter Figoski was a mistake.

Figoski, a 22-year veteran, was shot in cold blood, allegedly by a career criminal. Figowski died less than five hours after he was shot in the face while breaking up a robbery early Monday morning.

Pride has warrants in North Carolina and New York. The NYPD had him in custody just last month on drug charges in Coney Island, but a judge set him free on $2,500 bail.

Pride was wanted on weapons and assault charges for an August shooting in Greensboro, North Carolina, when he was arrested in Coney Island on November 3 for crack possession and endangering the welfare of a minor. Police saw the North Carolina warrant, but it specified extradition only from within the state of North Carolina.

The NYPD urged them to reconsider, but North Carolina refused and Pride was released.

Now, Pride is charged with firing the stolen gun that took the life of Officer Figoski.

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

The other arrests include Kevin Santos, who initially struggled with Estrada and was caught on surveillance tape walking away from the scene.

Police say two other men, identified as Ariel Tejada and Nelson Morales, claimed to be Good Samaritan neighbors and provided descriptions of Pride and Santos to police. The fifth person is the alleged getaway driver, who was caught on surveillance video walking away from the scene.

Detectives believe the suspects hit the Pine Street house because it was a known drug location with a significant amount of cash. Police say the four suspects all drove to the house in a gold car. Pride and Santos went inside, while the other two stayed outside.

The two men allegedly held up the victim inside and pistol whipped him, attempting to get the cash from marijuana sales. The victim called 911, and the officers responded.

Pride was caught immediately after the shooting. Santos was arrested at 2 a.m.

Tejada and Nelson were held after being interviewed by skeptical detectives and arrested after their stories fell apart.

(Some information from the Associated Press)

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Funeral service information for Officer Figowski:

Wake: Saturday and Sunday, 2p - 4:30p and 7p - 9:30p at Boyd Funeral Home, 448 West Main Street, Babylon, NY.

Funeral Mass: Monday at 11:00am St. Josephs Church, 39 North Carll Avenue, Babylon, NY.

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