Updated at: 02/28/2013 5:08 PM
By COLLEEN LONG
(AP) NEW YORK - A man convicted of firing the shot that killed a policeman during a botched robbery was sentenced Thursday to 45 years to life in prison after the slain officer’s loved ones described how he would never walk his four daughters down the aisle or meet his grandchildren.
Lamont Pride, 28, was convicted this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Officer Peter Figoski; he was acquitted of a more serious murder charge. But state Supreme Court Judge Alan Marrus sentenced him to the maximum time allowed under the law.
"I want to make it crystal clear," he said, "that it is my intention that the defendant serve this sentence and never get out of prison."
The courtroom was packed with Figoski’s family and fellow officers, many of whom wept as the family spoke. The assembled also included relatives of other officers lost in the line of duty: the father and sister of Alain Schaberger, who was shoved to his death while answering a domestic violence call in 2011, and the mother of Russel Timoshenko, who was shot during a 2007 traffic stop.
"When our father died, a part of us died, too," said 15-year-old Corinne Figoski, who spoke through tears along with her three sisters.
"Our dad was our world, our everything," she said. "Nothing will ever be the same again. We lay in bed, in the dark, at night, thinking about all the ways things have changed."
Her sister, Caitlyn, 19, said they’ll miss being walked down the aisle by him, "something every father and every daughter dream of."
"Our father will never see us grow into the strong, independent women he wanted us to be," she said.
Christine, 21 and Caroline, 17, spoke of horror of the night, when they saw their father bleeding on a hospital bed and prayed for his recovery.
Mary Ann Figoski, 79, described her son as full of life, always smiling and happy-go-lucky, a wonderful father who loved his daughters and looked forward to weddings and grandchildren.
"But now, that won’t happen," she said. "And we who had loved him daily are left with so many what-ifs and broken hearts."
The judge thanked the slain officer’s daughters for their impact statements.
"I speak as a father, not as a judge," he told Figoski’s daughters. "Your father would be very proud of you today."
Pride said nothing to Figoski’s loved ones and instead apologized to his own family and thanked his brothers for their support.
"As long as I got you in my corner to the end, we’re gonna stand tall," he said.
Brooklyn prosecutors said Pride and four others plotted to rob a small-time drug dealer on Dec. 12, 2011. A second suspect, Michael Velez, accused of driving the getaway car, was acquitted of all charges.
Pride did not deny that he fired a shot from a semi-automatic pistol that killed Figoski, who was responding to the scene. But he claimed he didn’t mean to do it _ the gun just went off when he fell. Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub had sought to show that Pride intentionally fired at the officer because he was cornered at the only exit and had no other way out. Jurors, after deliberating about 10 hours, found him not guilty of intentionally killing the 22-year veteran officer.
The prosecution’s star witness was one of the suspects, Ariel Tejada, who testified that Velez knew what was happening and wanted in on the crime. But he didn’t say whether he saw Pride fire.
The men broke into a shabby basement apartment in a building that belonged to the uncle of suspected mastermind Nelson Morales. But the uncle didn’t know what was happening and called 911 when he heard a commotion downstairs. Officers arrived and surprised the robbers, who pretended to be victims until they were later arrested, prosecutors said. Morales and a fourth suspect, Kevin Santos, are awaiting trial.
Figoski, 45, was posthumously promoted to detective.
Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the department’s largest union, applauded the sentence from the judge, saying it sent a clear message that killing an officer would not be tolerated in New York City.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)