DA: Roosevelt man pleads guilty in Hempstead cop shooting

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The Roosevelt man who authorities said shot a Hempstead Village police officer in 2011 pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder and will get 25 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Michael Benitez, 23, opened fire from about 12 feet on the uniformed officer who confronted him in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2011, authorities said.

One bullet hit the officer in the back and was stopped by his vest; another hit him in the left arm. The officer managed to return fire, hitting Benitez, a robbery suspect, three times. The officer was treated briefly and released. Benitez was treated for his arm, leg and groin wounds.

Shortly before opening arguments in his trial, Benitez pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder, and in exchange Judge Tammy Robbins agreed to the 25-year prison term when he is sentenced March 11.

Police initially charged Benitez with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

"This is an incredible example of the danger our police officers face every day, and the incredible talent and bravery they possess," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.

Plainclothes officers stopped Benitez and a companion shortly after 3 a.m. Dec. 2 as they walked near Washington Street and Fulton Avenue in Hempstead Village to ask them about two street robberies that had been reported in the area an hour earlier.

Benitez ran, police said, and then shot at the uniformed officer, who arrived to assist the plainclothes officers.

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Police did not release the officer's identity, describing him only as 25 years old and a two-year member of the force.

After the shooting, police Chief Joseph Wing said the officer "certainly acted bravely."

Prosecutors have said Benitez has convictions from January 2007 for robbery and attempted assault for which he served a 4-year sentence and was on 5 years of supervised release when he was arrested.

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