A member of an Ozone Park robbery crew was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years in prison for his role in the fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, a West Babylon resident, in 2011.
Ariel Tejada, 24, had admitted he took part in the shooting shortly after his arrest and gave key testimony that led to lengthy prison sentences for three other men involved in the murder. He will get credit for the time he has served to date and should be eligible for parole in about 13 years, his lawyer, Ronald Nir of Queens, said outside court.
Nir had told Justice Alan Marrus in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that Tejada was "a lost voice who tended to be a follower, not a leader."
Figoski's parents, Frank, 80, and Maryanne, 79, sat in the second row and listened as Tejada apologized to the family. Figoski's four daughters and other family members were not in court.
Tejada began to read a statement but was handcuffed from behind and had difficulty. He appeared to choke up after beginning, and Nir finished reading it for him.
"Detective Figoski's family will always be in my prayers," the statement said. "I want the family to know I never wanted this to happen."
Prosecutor Kenneth Taub said Tejada was not without redeeming qualities but he went along with a scheme with "the potential for horrendous consequences."
Figoski, 47, who was promoted to detective posthumously, was walking down the steps to the basement of a Brooklyn home in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2011, in response to a report of a burglary in progress when he was shot in the face by one of the fleeing robbers, Lamont Pride, 28. Pride was convicted of murder and burglary and sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.
Two other men -- Kevin Santos, 32, and Nelson Morales, 28 -- were sentenced to overlapping terms that will make them eligible for parole after they serve 21.4 years in prison. Michael Velez, 23, accused of being the lookout and getaway driver, was acquitted by a jury.
The proceeding Tuesday wrapped up two sets of trials before Marrus that began in January and included separate juries for each of the four defendants because not all evidence was admissible with every defendant.
Prosecutors presented a case cobbled together with conflicting statements from the defendants, a robbery victim in the basement of the Brooklyn home who was a drug dealer, and very little physical evidence to link all the defendants to the crime.
Prosecutors said Morales told others in the crew that his uncle, who lived in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, rented a basement apartment to a small-time marijuana dealer who would be an easy target. But after the crew kicked in the basement door, the uncle heard the commotion and called police.