Hempstead cop shooter Michael Benitez apologizes at sentencing

A cone marks the gun at the scene

A cone marks the gun at the scene where cops say a police officer was shot in Hempstead. (Dec. 2, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

A Roosevelt man who pleaded guilty to shooting a Hempstead Village police officer in 2011 apologized Monday moments before a Nassau judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

"I apologize for my actions," said Michael Benitez, 23. "It was wrong to do what I did."

Benitez pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder in January, shortly after lawyers made opening statements in his trial. The plea carried a negotiated sentence of 25 years in prison.

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Defense lawyer Dana Grossblatt of Jericho declined to comment after Nassau County Judge Tammy Robbins' sentence.

Prosecutor Martin Meaney said plainclothes officers stopped Benitez and a companion as they walked near Washington Street and Fulton Avenue in Hempstead Village shortly after 3 a.m. Dec. 2, 2011, 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 a uniformed officer who arrived to assist the plainclothes officers.

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

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

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