One of the first police officers responding to a burglary that led to the death of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, a West Babylon resident, testified Monday about the confusion at the crime scene that led him to mistake two of the burglars for victims.
Officer Mario Gandini of Brooklyn's 75th Precinct said the actual burglary victim was on the floor and accused burglar Nelson Morales was sitting on a bed in an adjacent room and holding his head in his hands as if injured.
When Gandini grabbed a third man in the basement apartment, Morales said, "No. He's with us. He's with us," the officer testified. Morales pointed to the real victim on the floor and said the man had been tormented by the perpetrators, Gandini said.
Asked by prosecutor Howard Jackson in Brooklyn Supreme Court what he believed at that point, Gandini said: "I have three victims."
Gandini's testimony came at the start of the second week of the trial of Morales, 28, and Kevin Santos, 32, who are charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree murder.
As the first officers came onto the scene on Dec. 12, 2011, Figoski and partner Glenn Estrada, also of West Babylon, were arriving as backup. Figoski was shot in the face by Lamont Pride, one of the burglars, who was escaping.
After detectives sorted out the details later that day, they realized some of the assumed victims were perpetrators and charged a five-man team of robbers from Ozone Park with going to the house at 25 Pine St., just across the border in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, to commit the burglary, and with causing Figoski's death.
Gandini, who had testified at an earlier set of trials, once again described finding Figoski's bloody body on the basement steps, and struggling along with other officers to lift his 250-pound frame, carry him up the narrow basement stairs and out to an ambulance. Figoski died about five hours later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
And once again, members of Figoski's family and fellow police officers sat in the court for much of the testimony.
Figoski's mother, Mary Anne, 79, stepped out of the courtroom later in the day while a city medical examiner testified that the officer died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the face. His former wife, Paulette, remained in the courtroom, as did two of his four daughters who came to court Monday. His father, Frank, 80, did not attend Monday.