Court papers: NYC officer shooting suspect sorry

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2012 5:36 PM
Court papers: NYC officer shooting suspect sorry

The man charged with murder in the shooting death of a police officer during a botched break-in apologized and said he didn't mean to fire the gun, according to court papers released Wednesday.

Lamont Pride, 27, and four others have pleaded not guilty in the death of Officer Peter Figoski, who was shot once in the face Dec. 12 as he tried to enter the basement apartment, the scene of a reported burglary. While Pride was being driven in a police car to central booking, he told police he was sorry, according to the papers.

"I didn't mean for this to happen," he said. "I didn't want to kill a cop. It went wrong and I'm sorry. I can't take it back," he said, according to the papers.

Through the stack of messy, hand-written statements gleaned from investigators, the plot emerges as a badly-conceived attempt to rob a drug dealer. Authorities said Pride and the others hatched the plot the day before to rob the apartment. Michael Velez, 21, stayed in the getaway car as the four others went in to the dingy, barely finished apartment at 25 Pine St. Ariel Tejada, 22, and Nelson Morales, 27, pistol-whipped the tenant and beat him while they ransacked the place, authorities charged.

When the owner upstairs called 911 to report a commotion in the building, Kevin Santos and Pride hid in a boiler room as Tejada and Morales pretended they were concerned neighbors, authorities said.

Figoski and his partner arrived as backup as Santos and Pride tried to flee. During a struggle between the officer's partner and Santos, Figoski came face-to-face with Pride, who police said shot him once in the face with a semiautomatic handgun. Figoski died hours later at a hospital. His partner pursued Pride on foot and captured him several blocks away, police said.

All five have pleaded not guilty on charges of murder, burglary and robbery.

Details of the ill-fated plan vary, depending on which defendant is telling the story. According to the papers, they all agree on a few details: They went to rob the pot dealer who lived in the basement apartment. Some implicate one another in the crime in some way, either by blaming it all on Pride, as Morales did, or by saying they went to the home but did not participate, as Santos did, according to the court papers.

"I told them I didn't want no part of that so we all get out, the driver stays. I walked across the street, walking slow, watching them as I walked off the police arrived," Santos told investigators, according to papers.

Pride, according to the papers, eventually admitted he had the weapon and told officers he got nervous when he saw police, clutched it with both hands and it accidentally went off.

None of the attorneys representing the suspects commented after a brief hearing Wednesday packed with uniformed officers.

Figoski, who was on the force 22 years, was posthumously promoted to detective.