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Jury convicts man in NYPD officer's death

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NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the police force, was murdered in the line of duty on December 12, 2012 in Brooklyn, NY NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the police force, was murdered in the line of duty on December 12, 2012 in Brooklyn, NY
Lamont Pride, 28, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Peter Figoski. Lamont Pride, 28, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Peter Figoski.
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Lamont Pride, one of the men on trial for the shooting death of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, was found guilty of second-degree murder on Monday.

He was acquitted of the most serious charge, alleging he intentionally killed the officer.

Pride could face at least 25 years to life in prison.

"The murder of a police officer is a crime on a monstrous scale, worse than other murders, because society invests in police officers the authority to enforce the law on their behalf. When a police officer is murdered, society at-large is struck a mortal blow," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement. "We had hoped that the charge of aggravated murder would have prevailed. Officer Figoski was an exemplary police officer in every way, and his dedication and commitment to this City will never be forgotten. I hope the verdict of murder in the second degree, and the fact that the person responsible for his death was convicted of it, provides some measure of comfort to the Figoski family."

Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the force, was shot once in the face while responding to a botched robbery in East New York, Brooklyn, in Dec. 2011.

Pride and Michael Velez were part of a group of five men robbing a drug dealer's apartment at 25 Pine Street, according to prosecutors.

Suspect Nelson Morales picked out the spot -- his uncle's building, and he said he was in on it, according to suspect Ariel Tejada, who testified against Pride in court.

As officers arrived, Morales and Tejada pretended to be victims while Pride and another man, Kevin Santos, hid in a boiler room near the only exit, according to trial testimony which began in January.

Velez, 22, drove to the apartment and waited outside, said police.

Pride had a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol racked and ready to go, and fired once at Figoski, prosecutors said. Figoski later died at a hospital.

Pride raced down the street and dumped the gun under a parked car before he was arrested by police. In videotaped statements to authorities, he is seen trying to explain that the gun just went off, that he didn't intentionally shoot anyone.

"I never took the hand off the trigger," he said in his videotaped statement. "That was my mistake."

He said another person had the gun and he grabbed it from him because he was worried he was going to get shot. As he was trying to escape with the gun, he tripped on the stairs going out, as Figoski was coming in.

When he hit the ground, the gun went off. "BOOM!" he said, as he lay on the floor of the precinct in the video to show officers and Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub how he fell.

Tejada agreed to testify against the others for a reduced sentence of 15 years. Pride's attorneys tried to discredit Tejada as a liar and criminal eager to save his own skin and pin the crime on others.

They have described the shooting as a tragic accident. They said their client didn't intend to kill Figoski.

"Responsibility is not intent," defense attorney James Koenig told the jury during his closing argument. "Like an idiot who should not have a gun in his hand, he had his finger on the trigger."

But the pistol jammed after the first shot because the casing, usually ejected to make room for the next bullet, got stuck inside. Police said had the gun not jammed, the damage could have been much worse.

The case against Velez is still being heard.

Figoski's funeral in West Babylon drew 20,000 fellow officers, family and friends.

The turnout was so large some officers lined up on the nearby Long Island Rail Road platform to salute as Figoski's casket was placed in a hearse.

Figoski was survived by a wife and four daughters. He had 12 medals awarded, including eight for exceptional police duty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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