Medical examiner testifies before slain NYPD cop's family

Court officers escort Lamont Pride, center, into a

Court officers escort Lamont Pride, center, into a courtroom during his trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court. (Jan. 28, 2013). (Credit: Charles Eckert)

The four daughters of slain NYPD Officer Peter Figoski sat in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn Wednesday as the city's acting chief medical examiner described the bullet wound that killed their father.

Despite an admonishment from the judge that the evidence might be disturbing, family members remained as Dr. Melissa Pasquale-Styles testified at the trial of two men accused of killing Figoski.

The 47-year-old West Babylon resident was shot in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2011, in the East New York section of Brooklyn.

"The cause of death is a gunshot wound to the head," said Pasquale-Styles, director of investigations in the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, who performed the autopsy.

The bullet entered below the left cheek, traveled just beneath the brain and exited at the rear, she said, damaging a vertebra and lacerating a major artery.

With such a wound it would be typical to lose consciousness immediately, she said.

Asked by Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub if the bullet wound would be consistent with a hypothetical scenario in which a victim walking down stairs was shot by someone at the bottom, Pasquale-Styles said, "It would be consistent with that scenario."

Figoski was among officers responding to a report of a robbery in progress at a home at 25 Pine St. Lamont Pride, 28, of North Carolina, is charged as his shooter, and Michael Velez, 22, of Queens, as the getaway driver.

Leaving the basement apartment, Pride encountered Figoski on the narrow stairs to the street, prosecutors said, and shot him in the face. The officer had not drawn his weapon.

Pasquale-Styles also said Wednesday that the gun would have been more than 18 inches from Figoski's face and that "in this case there was no evidence of close-range firing."

Briefly cross-examined by defense attorney James Koenig, who is representing Pride, she said she could not tell from her examination how far Figoski fell to cause bruising, which she earlier had said included abrasions and lacerations of the head, arm, hands.

Another lawyer for Pride, Christopher Wright, had told jurors in his opening statement that his client had not intended to shoot Figoski.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors introduced cellphone records to try and show how Pride and Velez communicated minutes after the shooting as they fled through local streets.

Before Pasquale-Styles' testimony, Judge Alan Marrus looked out to the gallery, where Figoski's daughters and other relatives sat. "I would strongly urge you not to be in the courtroom for this testimony. . . . It is up to you. . . . It's probably not a good idea to be hearing this," he said.

Family members glanced at one another, nodded their heads up and down to show they understood, and stayed in the courtroom.

With Patricia Kitchen

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