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Drug dealer testifies in slain NYPD cop trial

Fallen Police Officer Peter Figoski's daughter Corrine Figoski,

Fallen Police Officer Peter Figoski's daughter Corrine Figoski, center, exits the courtroom of the trial of Officer Figoski's alleged killers in Brooklyn Supreme Court. (Jan. 29, 2013). Credit: Charles Eckert

A small-time Brooklyn drug dealer testified Tuesday that two robbers threatened to kill him in his basement apartment just minutes before one of them allegedly shot and killed NYPD Officer Peter Figoski when the officer encountered the fleeing gunman.

"They came in with two pistols," Jose Hernandez, 27, told the jury in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn at the murder trial of the two men accused in the slaying of Figoski, 47, a West Babylon resident. He was killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2011, in East New York.

The robbers told him "that they were police officers . . . They told me to give them the money and drugs and the bling-bling," Hernandez, 27, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, said through an interpreter.

One robber told the other "that if I don't give them all my belongings to kill me," Hernandez said. He said he had about $1,000 in cash and $800 worth of marijuana in the apartment at the time, and that he made a living selling the drugs in $10 and $20 bags.

He was not asked to identify either defendant: Lamont Pride, 28, of North Carolina, charged as the shooter, and Michael Velez, 22, of Queens, who prosecutors said was the getaway driver.

Police officers responding to a report of a robbery in progress at the house on Pine Street found Hernandez on the floor, apparently unconscious. As those officers were tending to Hernandez, Pride, who had hidden in a side room near the front door, slipped out the front, only to run into Figoski on the narrow stairs to the street, prosecutors said.

Pride shot Figoski in the face before the officer could even draw his weapon, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub told jurors in his opening statement last week. Pride's lawyer, Christopher Wright, told the jury that his client had not intended to shoot.

The jurors have been shown the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun allegedly used by Pride, and police witnesses testified Tuesday that the weapon jammed after the first round was fired. Testing showed that Pride's DNA was on the weapon, officials said.

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