Prosecutor: Lamont Pride intentionally shot officer Figoski

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)

Lamont Pride was so intent on escape after the gunpoint robbery of a Brooklyn drug dealer that he intentionally shot NYPD Officer Peter Figoski in the face rather than risk arrest when the two big men faced each other on a narrow stairway, a prosecutor told jurors at Pride's murder trial Wednesday.

"It was a deliberate, intentional shot in order to make his escape," prosecutor Kenneth Taub said as he summed up the case against Pride, 28, of North Carolina, in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Defense attorney James Koenig had summed up earlier, saying his client's actions were "moronic" and "stupid," but he had not intended to shoot Figoski.

Taub told jurors Figoski was responding to a report of a robbery in progress when he confronted Pride coming up the stairs from a basement apartment at 25 Pine St. about 2:20 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2011.

The stairway was narrow. Figoski, 47, a West Babylon resident, weighed 250 pounds. Pride weighed 180 pounds at the time of his arrest, yet is so broad-shouldered that court officers have to use two sets of handcuffs when they bring him in and out of court.

The stairway "wasn't wide enough . . . [for Pride] to get around him," Taub said.

Pride could have shot Figoski in the leg or in the chest, where he would be protected from a fatal wound by his bullet-resistant vest, Taub said, but he shot the officer in the face because, "he wanted to be sure of the result."

Figoski's family watched as the defense and prosecution gave closing statements before Justice Alan Marrus. Figoski's 79-year-old father, Frank, who was hospitalized after suffering a medical episode in court Tuesday, returned to court Wednesday.

In his summation, Koenig said Pride's initial statements to detectives showed he did not think anyone had been shot, but conceded that Pride had his finger on the trigger of the 9-mm semiautomatic pistol when he encountered Figoski just after Pride and four others had robbed the drug dealer.

"Like an idiot, who should not have a gun in hand, he has his finger on the trigger," Koenig told the jury. He asked them to acquit Pride of the top charge of murder in the first degree -- which carries a penalty of up to life in prison without parole. He did not ask jurors to acquit Pride on the lower counts, including burglary and robbery.

"This is not aggravated murder," he said. "I'm confident you will return the correct verdict."

The jury was expected to begin deliberating Thursday after getting instructions on the law from the judge.

The trial of a co-defendant, Michael Velez, 22, before the same judge, but a separate jury, was to resume after the Pride jury began deliberations.

The alleged ringleader of the robbery crew, Nelson Morales, 28, and another man, Kevin Santos, 31, both of Queens, are awaiting trial. A fifth man, Ariel Tejada, 23, of Queens, has pleaded guilty and accepted a reduced sentence in return for testifying against Pride and Velez, and possibly testifying against Morales and Santos.

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