NEW YORK (PIX11)—A grand jury indictment has been unsealed in Brooklyn against four Queens men and a North Carolina native for Monday's fatal shooting of Police Officer, Peter Figoski, during the home invasion of a pot dealer in Cypress Hills.
The five suspects were hauled into court together, including a heavily shackled Lamont Pride, the accused triggerman. He was wearing a bright orange jailhouse jumpsuit and surrounded at the defense table by a squad of court officers and supervisors. Pride, who had an outstanding arrest warrant from North Carolina for shooting someone there back in August, fidgeted in his place, as he stood with the others in a 2nd floor courtroom at 320 Jay Street.
The attorney representing accused getaway driver, Michael Velez, was enraged that a Daily News reporter got access to Velez in the Manhattan House of Detention.
Velez told the News he drove the group to 25 Pine Street for gas money about 2am Monday morning and that he was actually going out to get baby formula for his 9 month old daughter.
"Smoke and mirrors," said PBA union president, Patrick Lynch, outside the courtroom. "They should have put 'once upon a time' in front of the story."
Velez's defense lawyer, Marvin Weinroth, angrily demanded an investigation within the New York City Department of Corrections, since only Velez's father and lawyers were supposed to have contact with the 21 year old Queens man. Velez was the only one of the suspects who refused to make any statements to police or prosecutors, after he was taken into custody. Now the District Attorney could have fresh ammunition, placing Velez in the middle of the robbery plot, with the quotes featured in the Daily News. Velez's attorney thundered in court that the reporter had no pen or paper to take notes and "I am sure he had a nice cell phone stuffed in his jockey shorts, pressed to 'record'."
Velez had been accused of attempted murder two years ago, for slashing a Richmond Hill man in the face in a gang-related assault. The victim needed 300 stitches to close up his wounds but later refused to testify against Velez in court.
All of the suspects have criminal records, and 30 year old Kevin Santos had only been out of prison a couple of months, after serving time for robbery. Detectives say he concocted Monday's scheme to rob a pot dealer in Cypress Hills. Officer Peter Figoski arrived as back-up to help other cops responding to a 911 call, and the indictment said he shot the officer in the face, at close range, as he tried to flee .using an illegally-obtained, 9mm, semi-automatic Ruger.
Dozens of off-duty police officers, wearing black bands over their shields, packed the Brooklyn courtroom to stare down the defendants. Officer Figoski spent his entire, 22 year police career in East New York's gritty 75th Precinct.
He could have retired after twenty years but chose to keep working, to help put his four daughters through college.
The only positive news to emerge this week is information that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to a fund that will help with the education of Officer Figoski's four daughters. Two are already studying at schools upstate, and the other two daughters are still in high school.
Officer Peter Figoski's funeral will be held Monday out on Long Island.