The man accused in the 2013 shooting of a Nassau police officer in New Hyde Park pleaded guilty Tuesday in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence.
Cong Xu, 22, a Chinese national living in Brooklyn, admitted in court he fired several gunshots and seriously hurt Officer Mohit Arora after fleeing from a home break-in when he found people inside. He pleaded guilty to first-degree charges of assault and burglary, and prosecutors dropped offenses including attempted murder as part of the deal.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Philip Grella took the plea after telling the defendant that doctors had found him fit to stand trial after a court-ordered mental exam. He also told Cong, who communicated through a Mandarin-speaking translator, that he could be deported later since he is not a U.S. citizen.
Cong, who had worked upstate as a waiter, admitted after his arrest that he fired three gunshots while fleeing a Campbell Street residence on Aug. 14, 2013, according to court records. He'd also said he had seen police outside as he tried to find his getaway car and ignored orders not to move before opening fire toward a nearby lawn. Cong said he fired his gun again while trying to climb a fence by a schoolyard as he tried to escape, records showed.
Arora, 32, who joined the police force in 2007, suffered a gunshot wound to his groin area after answering a 911 call about the break-in. He needed surgery to repair his injuries after the bullet exited his right hip.
Arora said after witnessing Cong's plea he was "very grateful and thankful" to have survived and thanked fellow officers who supported him through a long, painful recovery after the single bullet hit him.
"I learned a lot from this incident, and a police job is a very dangerous job. . . . Me and my family suffered a lot. And I want to leave this bad thing behind me and move on to better things," he said.
Arora said he was hospitalized for about 10 days after the shooting and was out of work for six to eight months. He said he's back at work on light duty.
Of Cong, Arora said: "He got sentenced to a long time, and I'm ready to move on."
James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, called Arora's injuries "life-changing."
"If he gets the chance to be out there again, I know this police officer will be out there responding in the same urgent fashion he did that night," the union official said.
Police caught Cong and his accomplice, Renhang Qiu, then 22 and living in Brooklyn, in the area after the break-in.
Renhang, the would-be getaway driver, previously pleaded guilty as part of a cooperation agreement with prosecutors to testify against Cong and got a deal for a 7-year prison sentence. He's scheduled for sentencing next week and has admitted to authorities he's related to one of the owners of the targeted home.
Cong's lawyer, Scott Tulman of Manhattan, said Tuesday his client "feels nothing but remorse for his conduct and wishes he only had the opportunity to apologize . . . for what he did."
Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement, "As a result of officer Arora's heroism and today's guilty plea, this defendant will no longer be a threat to others for a long time to come."